Post Insurgency: Rights group urges Borno govt to consider transitional Justice for Peace

Basic Rights Watch, a non-governmental organisation in Borno State has called on Governor Bbagana Zullum to adopt Transitional Justice ( TJ ) in its post-insurgency era as a pathway to peace and development in the state.

The rights group, made the call while addressing Journalists on Wednesday in Maiduguri.

Austine Ekwujuru, the Chief Executive of the NGO noted that the steady decline in Boko Haram attacks in North-East Nigeria, particularly Borno State indicates that the country is gradually moving towards the post-insurgency era, hence the urgent need to find pathways to lasting peace and development for the affected populace.

He said as such, there is no better approach than the deployment of a robust Transitional Justice (TJ) mechanism to ensure sustainable pathways to peace, healing, accountability, and development.

He said Transitional Justice is crucial for the promotion of human rights and justice, peace and security, good governance and development, noting that the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 underscores the importance of these ideals as part of the drive towards the ‘Africa-We-Want’.

“Transitional justice (TJ) consists of judicial and non-judicial measures implemented to redress legacies of human rights abuses. Such measures could “include truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms amongst others. TJ is informed by a society’s desire to rebuild social trust, repair a fractured justice system and ensure accountability after a prolonged conflict.

“The consortium Basic Rights Watch, the People, Young Professionals in Policy and Development and Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution today urge the Borno State government to consider the Transitional Justice mechanism in the post-insurgency era as a pathway to sustainable peace and development in the state.

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“TJ has recently received greater attention from both academics and policymakers. It has also generated interest in the fields of political and legal discourse. In periods of political transitions, from authoritarian, dictatorial regimes or from civil conflicts to democracy, TJ has often provided opportunities for such societies to address past human rights abuses, mass atrocities, or other forms of severe trauma in order to facilitate a smooth transition into a more democratic or peaceful future.

“In Nigeria, after the transition process from a military regime to a democratic regime, a Truth and Reconciliation Panel was set up called the Oputa panel. In South Africa, after the Apartheid regime, a truth and reconciliation panel was set up headed by Bishop Desmond Tutu. Other TJ processes include the Gacaca courts in Rwanda, which helped in promoting truth and justice in their community. In Sierra Leone, there was the Fambul Tor aimed at reconciliation and forgiveness in communities that were affected by a long-running civil war.

“In Liberia, there was the Palaver Hut, all locally driven initiatives. Following the Boko Haram insurgency and the counter-insurgency, there were cases of human rights violations and abuses in the North East particularly in Borno state by both state and non-state actors. Therefore, there is a need for TJ mechanisms aimed at healing, accountability, reconciliation and forgiveness.

“The concept of TJ is therefore a necessary step in moving from a divided and painful past to a commonly shared and developed future. The core values of TJ include but are not limited to: Acknowledgement of responsibility and the suffering of victims; Showing remorse; Asking for forgiveness; Paying compensation or making reparation; Reconciliation,” Ekwujuru said.

He noted that the concerted efforts of the government to tackle insurgency, especially in Borno State is yielding the desired results as noted in the de-escalation of violence, but observed that, the human rights violations that trailed the operations of the insurgents and the counter-insurgency made the young people to be targets of harassments, torture and brutality.

He said these have left an indelible mark on their psyche and ignited a mood to seek justice as a critical pathway for sustainable peace.

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