Boko Haram: NHRC, UNHCR Train Military On Rights Protection
National Human Rights Commision (NHRC) on Thursday in Maiduguri commenced training of military and other law enforcement officers on accountability and respect for human rights in counter insurgency operations.
The NHRC Executive Secretary, Mr Tony Ojukwu, said at the opening of the two-day training that the workshop was in partnership with the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
He said that the training, titled “Mainstreaming Human Rights And Civilian Protection Into Counter Insurgency Operation in The Northeast”, was to enhance capacity of military personnel and other law enforcement officers in application of basic human rights principles and norms during
counter-insurgency operations to stem violations.
He added that it was also aimed at improving capacity of participants in strengthening and identifying protection of civil and vulnerable populace in the Nigerian humanitarian context.
He explained that the training would expose participants to the legal framework for International Human Rights Law and Humanitarian Principles and enhance officer’s capacity on how to protect rights of civilians when caught up in armed conflict.
He said “the training would also go a long way in building a crop of military officers and law enforcement personnel conscious of preserving respect for human rights while carrying out their operations.
“It is now common knowledge that Boko Haram had been substantially degraded to pockets of splinter groups of guerilla fighters constituting no threat to the cooperate existence of Nigeria.
“The justification for this training cannot be overemphasized. The war against insurgency is complicated by the asymmetric nature of the conflicts because the insurgents live within us and there is hardly a clear drawn battle line between them and the civilian population.”
He, therefore, stressed the need to prosecute the insurgency operations to win the hearts and minds of the civilian population and underscored the importance of the training on mainstreaming principle of respect for human rights and civilian protection into the counter insurgency operations.
“This will not only reduce the casualty level, it will also reduce the humanitarian consequences of internal displacement and protection challenges arising therefrom,” he said.
Ojukwu said participants were expected to extend the gains of the training by stepping it down toward ensuring that the knowledge acquired was extended to the wider population.
Cesar Tshulombo, the UNHCR Head of Sub-Office in Maiduguri, said the Nigerian military and other personnel had performed exceedingly well in containing the insurgency in the North East.
Tshukombo commended Federal Government and the military “for complying with the good conduct of counter insurgency operations because I have been here in the last three years and I saw all efforts put in place.”
He, however, stressed the need to apply international standard in the operations, hence the training.
He said there was need to help people to go back to their liberated homes but there was also the need
to build their confidence “and show the people that we are here to protect them to allay their fear.
“We also need to dialogue with the military. It is based on this position that we can improve our understanding of human rights as nobody will say he knows everything.”
Maj.-Gen. Rogers Nicholas, the Theatre Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, commended NHRC and
the UNHCR for organising the workshop.
He said the training would improve the performance of the military, noting that the military had established human rights desks across its formations in line with International Best Practice.
He said “we have done so much on human rights because our operations are guided by code of conduct and rules of engagement and every soldier is guided by these rules.
“We know there may be hiccups here and there but when there are constructive criticisms, we can investigate and verify and take actions.”
Participants at the training included the Police, Army, NSCDC, Nigerian Immigration Service, Department of Security Services, National Security Adviser, National Intelligent Agency.