In News by ibukun on the 21st, July, 2019

SERAP drags senior Nigerian officials to ICC ‘for leaving 13.2 million children out of school’

Socio-Financial Rights and Accountability Venture (SERAP) has despatched a petition to Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, Worldwide Legal Court docket (ICC), urging her to make use of her “good offices to investigate whether the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria, and the failure of the Nigerian authorities over the years to address it amount to violence against children and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

The group urged Mrs Bensouda to: “push for those suspected to be responsible for this problem, including current and former presidents and state governors since 1999, who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively breached their special duty toward children, and are therefore complicit in the crime, to be tried by the ICC.”

Within the petition dated 19 July 2019 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the group stated: “Investigating and prosecuting high-ranking Nigerian officials and providing reparations to victims will contribute to serving the best interests of Nigerian children, the most vulnerable citizens in our country, and ending the impunity that is denying them their right to education and a life free of violence and fear.”

SERAP stated: “These out-of-school Nigerian children have been exposed to real danger, violence and even untimely death. Senior Nigerian politicians since 1999 have failed to understand the seriousness of the crime of leaving millions of children out of school, and have made an essential contribution to the commission of the crime.”

SERAP additionally stated: “The ICC has said within the Lubanga case that the interruption, delay and denial of the appropriate of youngsters to schooling is against the law throughout the jurisdiction of the Court docket. SERAP believes that the truth for youngsters residing within the Ituri area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is much like the truth confronted by hundreds of thousands of out-of-school kids in Nigeria, because the state of affairs is depriving a complete era of youngsters of their proper to schooling and human dignity.”

The petition learn partly: “There is no immunity for crimes under the Rome Statute. The crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school is an opportunity for your Office to show the Court’s commitment to effectively enforce its Policy on Children and other important statements of international criminal justice.”

“Putting millions of Nigerian children that should be in school on the street exposes them to violence, including sexual violence, gender violence, abduction, and other forms of exploitation and violence against children, and implicitly amounts to enslavement, trafficking of children, and ill-treatment, three of the eleven acts that may amount to a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.”

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“Unless the ICC declares the problem of over 13 million out-of-school Nigerian children as violence against children and crime against humanity, and hold those suspected to be responsible since 1999 to account, the number of out-of-school children will continue to rise, and these children may never receive any formal education at all.”

“Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001. According to Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5 million to 13.2 million.”

“This figure is based on a joint survey conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government. Data by the UNICEF also shows that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. However, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education Mr Adamu Adamu has suggested the figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria to be 10,193,918, citing a recent ‘National Personnel Audit’ of both public and private schools in the country.”

“According to the former Minister of Education, all of the 36 states in Nigeria are affected by the problem of out-of-school children but the problem is more widespread and systematic in the following states: Kano, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Oyo, Benue, Jigawa and Ebonyi states.”

“Girls are disproportionately represented among out-of-school children. In north-eastern Nigeria alone, 2.8 million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three conflict-affected States (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). In these States, at least 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.”

“Under Nigerian law and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, the Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels have a legally binding obligation to immediately provide free, universal quality primary education for all Nigerian children, and to progressively provide education at all other levels without discrimination.”

“Nigerian authorities over time have restricted academic alternatives for youngsters with disabilities together with by failing to supply gear equivalent to listening to aids, ramps to highschool buildings, wheelchairs, crutches, glasses and surgical procedure to kids in want, and failing to deal with academic challenges going through kids with disabilities, typically.

“SERAP notes the launch by your Workplace in 2016 of the Coverage on Kids, which goals to ship ‘a firm and consistent message that humanity stands united in its resolve that crimes against children will not be tolerated and that their perpetrators will not go unpunished.’ The Coverage goals to help your Workplace in its efforts to robustly deal with these crimes, taking into account the rights and finest pursuits of youngsters.”

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“SERAP notes also that at the launch of the Policy you stated among others that, ‘a crime against a child is an offence against all of humanity; it is an affront to our basic tenets of human decency. Children are our greatest re., and must be protected from harm so as to reach their full potential. We, at the ICC, intend to . our part through the legal framework of the Rome Statute’.”

“This statement is entirely consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nigeria is a state party and shows that children will not be invisible in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the ICC, and that your Office will extend its work to ensure the well-being of children, including millions of out-of-school Nigerian children.”

“The Rome Statute’s sensitivity towards children’s issues is clearly demonstrated in Article 68(1) to the effect that the Court must ‘have regard to all relevant factors, including gender and the nature of the crime, in particular, where the crime involves sexual or gender violence or violence against children.’ Under Article 54(1), ‘the Prosecutor shall take into account the nature of the crime, in particular where it involves violence against children.’”

“SERAP is seriously concerned that the problem of out-of-school children is widespread and systematic, cutting across the 36 states of the country and Abuja, and spanning many years since 1999. The problem of out-of-school children has had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of children, their families and communities, akin to violence against children under the Court’s Policy, and crimes against humanity as contemplated under the Rome Statue.”

“The Rome Statutein article 7 defines “crime towards humanity” to incorporate “inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,” dedicated in a widespread or systematic method towards a civilian inhabitants. The widespread denominator of crimes towards humanity is that they’re grave affronts to human safety and dignity.”

“The consequences of throwing millions of Nigerian children that should be in school out on the street are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute. Senior government officials know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent millions of Nigerian children from roaming the street will expose the children to violence, deny them their human dignity and exacerbate the growing insecurity in the country.”

“SERAP considers the apparent failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute.”

“This crime against Nigerian children has continued to rob our children of their innocence, childhood, and often, tragically, resulted in their untimely deaths, denying Nigeria of its future potential and of its greatest re..”

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“The national authorities of the Court’s States Parties form the first line of defense in addressing the crimes against children, as they shoulder the primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of the crimes. But successive governments in Nigeria have been unwilling or unable to address the problem of out-of-school children, and end the crime against humanity.”

“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor on this case. Pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has energy to intervene in a state of affairs below the jurisdiction of the Court docket if the Safety Council or states events refer a state of affairs or if info is offered from different .s equivalent to the data SERAP isproviding on this case.

SERAP due to this fact urged the ICC Prosecutor to:

  1. Urgently start an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic drawback of out-of-school kids in Nigeria for the reason that return of democracy in 1999, with a view to figuring out whether or not these quantity to violence towards kids and crime towards humanity throughout the Court docket’s jurisdiction. On this respect, we additionally urge you to ask representatives of the Nigerian authorities to supply written or oral testimony on the seat of the Court docket, in order that the Prosecutor is ready to conclude since obtainable info whether or not there’s a affordable foundation for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation;
  2. Deliver to justice these suspected to be liable for widespread and systematic drawback of out-of-school kids in Nigeria;
  3. Urge the Nigerian authorities to fulfil its obligations below the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; together with complying together with your requests to arrest and give up suspected perpetrators of the widespread and systematic crime of leaving hundreds of thousands of Nigerian kids out of college, testimony, and supply different help to the ICC
  4. Compel the Nigerian authorities on the Federal and State ranges to make sure that hundreds of thousands of out-of-school kids are afforded their proper to schooling, entry to justice, and guarantee reparations to victims, together with restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and assure of non-repetition

Kolawole Oluwadare
SERAP Deputy Director
Lagos, Nigeria
Emails: [email protected] ; [email protected]

Twitter: @SERAPNigeria
Web site:
Phone: +2348160537202

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