SERAP takes Federal Government to ICC over 13.2m out of school children.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Federal Government for allegedly leaving 13.2 million children out of school.
The group’s request was contained in a petition to the ICC prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, urging her to use 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.”
It enjoined the prosecutor 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 towards children, and are therefore complicit in the crime, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition dated July 19, 2019 and signed by SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “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.
“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.”
It added: “The ICC has stated in the Lubanga case that the interruption, delay, and denial of the right of children to education is a crime within the jurisdiction of the court. SERAP believes that the reality for children living in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is similar to the reality faced by millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria, as the situation is depriving an entire generation of children of their right to education and human dignity.”
According to the rights group, there is no immunity for crimes under the Rome Statute.
It said the crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school was an opportunity for ICC to enforce its policy on children and other important statements of international criminal justice.
SERAP stressed that putting millions of Nigerian children that should be in school on the street exposes them to aggression, including sexual and gender violence, abduction and other forms of exploitation.
The group argued that violence against children amounts to enslavement, trafficking of children and ill-treatment, three of the eleven acts that might amount to a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.