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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Nigeria

2.7.2013 - (2013/2691(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Marietje Schaake, Louis Michel, Robert Rochefort, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Marielle de Sarnez, Charles Goerens, Sarah Ludford, Hannu Takkula, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Angelika Werthmann, Nathalie Griesbeck on behalf of the ALDE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0344/2013

Procedura : 2013/2691(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Nigeria


The European Parliament,

 having regard to the European Parliament’s resolution of 15 March 2012 on the situation in Nigeria, which called on the Nigerian government to refrain from using excessive force and to act within the law in its efforts to protect its citizens from the threat of Boko Haram,


 having regard to the statements by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton on 2 June 2013 on the bill in Nigeria criminalizing same-sex marriage and relationships, and on 25 June 2013 on executions in Nigeria,


 having regard to the Nigeria-EU Ministerial Meeting of 16 May 2013 in Brussels, which established the need to balance counter terrorism measures with the loss of civilian lives and destruction of public infrastructure,


 having regard to the Cotonou Agreement of 2000 (revised in 2005 and 2010), and ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010, and in particular its Articles 8 and 9 concerning political dialogue and human rights, democracy, and rule of law,


 having regard to the statement by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on 22 April 2013 regarding the high number of civilians killed and homes destroyed in Nigeria due to clashes between military forces and Boko Haram,


 having regard to the statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on 3 May 2013 in response to the violent clashes of April 2013, reminding security agents in Nigeria to respect human rights and to avoid excessive use of force in their operations,


 having regard to the statement by the UN Security Council of 27 December 2011 on attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Nigeria,


 having regard to the African Union Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and the additional Protocol to the Convention, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,


 having regard to a statement made by the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union Lamamra Ramtane on 14 July 2012, condemning the activities and human rights violations of Boko Haram, urging the international community to assist Nigeria in resisting the terrorist sect, noting that it poses threats to regional and international security,


 having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted on 29 May 1999, and in particular its provisions on the protection of fundamental rights in Chapter IV, including the rights to life, a fair hearing, dignity of human persons, and the protection of the freedoms of expression, the press, thought, conscience, and religion,


 having regard to Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions agreements, ratified by Nigeria on 20 June 1961, and the additional Protocol II, ratified by Nigeria on 10 October 1988, both establishing international law relating to non-international armed conflicts,


 having regard to its resolution on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy of 11 December 2012,


 having regard to its resolution on the freedom of the press and media in the world of 13 June 2013,


 having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,


 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,


 having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,


A. whereas Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in the states Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa on 15 May 2013 in response to Boko Haram's activities, mobilizing additional military forces;


B. whereas in April 2013 the town of Baga was destroyed as a result of fighting between Nigerian military forces and Boko Haram militants, resulting in the ruin of 2,000 homes and the death of over 180 civilians, according to community leaders;


C. whereas the Federal Government has categorized Boko Haram under the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 to permit prosecution of any individual associated with or supporting the group;


D. whereas Boko Haram is responsible for the deaths of 4,000 people since 2009; whereas the connection between Boko Haram and AQIM (Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) poses a serious threat to peace and security in the greater Sahel region and western Africa; whereas Boko Haram continues to target state and security officials, including in a raid on a prison compound on 7 May 2013 in Bama, killing approximately 55 people and resulting in the release of approximately 105 inmates;


E.  whereas Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Freedom House, and other human rights organizations have documented the involvement of Boko Haram in attacks on police stations, military facilities, churches, schools, farms, and banks; whereas Boko Haram has expanded its targeting of civilians, including in attacks on two high schools in Borno and Yobe states on 16-17 June 2013, killing a total of 16 students and two teachers; whereas threats to civilians have prompted 19,000 farmers to flee their farms and abandon their crops, leading to loss of agricultural productivity and contributing to food shortages;


F.  whereas UNHCR has warned of a refugee crisis; whereas in the past weeks some 6000 Nigerians arrived in Niger; whereas between 11 and 13 June 2013 some 3000 Nigerians crossed into Cameroon;


G. whereas Boko Haram continues to target Christians and drive them from the country’s majority-Muslim north;


H. whereas, in response to Boko Haram violence, the Nigerian police and military have seized and carried out extrajudicial executions of numerous suspected members of the group, namely by seizing young men from northern villages; whereas the Nigerian government and army officials have provided unreliable estimates of civilian casualties and damages to homes; whereas Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, and other human rights organizations have described the response by the Nigerian forces in recent months as increasingly brutal and indiscriminate, leaving civilians to bear the disproportionate brunt of the violence between the two groups;


I.   whereas Boko Haram has repeatedly threatened to attack media outlets that have reported negatively about the group;


J.   whereas due to the declaration of the state of emergency, large parts of the north eastern provinces have become inaccessible for aid agencies, journalists and reporters and the government has shut down mobile phone services in several areas to stop militants communicating,;


K. whereas the Nigerian government has recently broken its seven-year moratorium on the death penalty by executing four prisoners in Edo State who were sentenced when Nigeria was still ruled by a military dictatorship;


L.  whereas the problems in Nigeria stem from a lack of economic development and the tension is rooted in decades of resentment between indigenous groups vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north; whereas an escalation of armed conflict and persisting social and economic challenges may fuel radicalization;


M. whereas the EU is the largest financial donor to Nigeria; whereas, on 12 November 2009, the Commission and the Federal Government of Nigeria signed the Nigeria-EC Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for 2008-2013, under which the EU funds projects whose aims include peace and security and human rights; whereas EU assistance for Nigeria over this period totals €700 million, some of which has been diverted to dealing with the increasingly problematic security situation in northern Nigeria;


N. whereas, under Articles 8 and 9 of the revised Cotonou Agreement, the EU engages in regular political dialogue with Nigeria on human rights and democratic principles, including ethnic, religious and racial discrimination;


1.   Strongly condemns the escalation of violence by Boko Haram and the tragic loss of innocent lives in the stricken regions of Nigeria, and extends its sympathies to the bereaved and the injured;


2.  Urges the government of Nigeria to guarantee the security and protection of its population against the violence of Boko Haram, while upholding its obligations under internationally recognized human rights standards and acting in line with the rule of law;


3. Condemns the Nigerian military for using excessive violence in its clashes with Boko Haram, particularly in its raids on Baga on 16-17 April 2013,


4.   Urges both government and sub-state actors to exercise restraint and seek peaceful means to resolve differences between religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria; emphasizes, in this regard, the importance of a functioning, independent, impartial and accessible judicial system, especially during armed conflicts, to end impunity, enhance respect for the rule of law, and protect the fundamental rights of the population;


5. Calls on the Nigerian Government to prevent further escalation of the conflict, with special consideration for the safety and well-being of civilians, noting that destruction and damages caused during the conflict to housing, public infrastructure, and farmland have detrimental impacts on the population;


6. Urges both the Nigerian Government and Boko Haram to recognize and respect freedom of the press and media and to allow journalists and reporters access to the front lines, as the press and media can play an important role in strengthening accountability and documenting human rights abuses,


7. Condemns the execution of Daniel Nsofor by the Nigerian authorities for crimes committed when under 18 years of age; rrecommends that the authorities take necessary steps to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 2010 concluding observations on Nigeria, in particular, to ensure that the definition of the child in domestic legislation and at State level is in full compliance with that of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to review the files of all prisoners on death row for crimes committed before the age of 18 years and to prohibit the death penalty for all persons under the age of 18 in domestic legislation;


8. Invites the Nigerian authorities, with the support of the European Commission and UNICEF, to accelerate its reform efforts in line with the UN Convention on the rights of the Child, in particular as regards Justice for Children and birth registration systems; rrecommends Nigeria to continue and strengthen its efforts to ensure free and compulsory birth registration for all children, raise public awareness about the importance of birth registration and existing legislation;


9. Recognizes that mobile phone communication is an important form of communication for militants, but urges the Nigerian government not to rely on blockading the entire network as this also makes it impossible for citizens to communicate,


10.  Underlines the importance of regional cooperation for addressing the threat posed by the connection between Boko Haram and AQIM; encourages the countries in the region to deepen their cooperation, including through the relevant regional organisations, in order to prevent further synergies between Boko Haram and AQIM; calls on the EU institutions and Member States to lend their support to these regional efforts;






11.   Calls for a wider examination of the root causes of the conflict, including social, economic and ethnic tensions, and to avoid broad and simplistic explanations based only on religion that will not provide the basis for a long-term, lasting solution to the problems of the region;


12. Expresses concern that an escalation of conflict in Nigeria will further intensify the refugee crisis in neighboring Niger and Cameroon; encourages Nigerian government officials to engage with leaders of neighboring countries to coordinate responses to the influx of refugees;


13. Calls upon EU HR/VP Ashton to urge the Nigerian government to exercise respect for human rights in its counter-terrorism operations; expresses its readiness to follow closely the evolution of the situation in Nigeria, and proposes restrictive measures in the case of non-compliance with the Cotonou Agreement (2000), and in particular with Articles 8 and 9; asks in this respect that the Commission also monitors the situation;


14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union and of ECOWAS, the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the PAN-African Parliament (PAP).