ICC investigating Zaria massacre, concerned about alleged evidence tampering

PRESS RELEASE

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is continuing to investigate the massacre of over 1000 civilians by Nigerian armed forces in the city of Zaria in 2005.

In its most recent update issued shortly before the new year the Prosecutor of the court said she was still compiling evidence and “finalising its assessment on subject-matter jurisdiction”.

The ICC is waiting for a response from Nigeria that satisfies the court that it is properly investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the massacre. Should the government fail to progress these issues, the ICC will then intervene and see where they can prosecute.

The Court’s preliminary investigation centres on crimes against humanity, that is, acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.

In a clarification to IHRC, the ICC said it was still awaiting relevant information promised to it by the Nigerian authorities. If they fail to provide the requested information, the Prosecutor will need to come to his own determination regarding the conclusion of its preliminary examination into the situation in Nigeria.

The Prosecutor’s update said it “notes with deep concern allegations of ongoing evidence tampering and of the alleged destruction of evidence.”

Last October, IHRC was forced to ask the ICC to expedite its investigation after receiving intelligence that the Nigerian authorities were seeking to destroy or tamper with evidence and eliminate witnesses to the massacre. The intelligence suggested that the authorities were seeking to dispose of anything that might connect them to the 2005 massacre.

It is believed that over 1000 followers and supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria lost their lives in the Zaria massacre when soldiers attacked civilians and property connected to the movement. The movement’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah have been in detention since the army attack which marked the beginning of an official campaign to crush the organisation.

IHRC calls on the Nigerian government to refrain from drawing out the proceedings and do its utmost to pre-empt an ICC prosecution by bringing to trial those responsible for the massacre. In addition we urge the Nigerian government to

  • release all the detained supporters and followers of the Islamic Movement and drop false charges against them
  • provide support to victims and their families
  • release Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife and pay them court-ordered compensation
  • locate and return bodies of victims

For more information or comment please contact the Press Office on media@ihrc.org or (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 7958522196

NOTES TO EDITORS:

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IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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