Report: Children, babies dying in Nigerian military detention camp

Report-Children-babies-dying-in-Nigerian-military-detention-camp.   LONDON,  At least 149 people, including four babies, have died at a barracks in Nigeria while being held on suspicion of involvement with terrorist group Boko Haram.

The Nigerian army’s detention of civilians rounded up during its fight against insurgent group Boko Haram has led to charges by Amnesty International of death, overcrowding and disease at the army’s Giwa barracks detention center. Photo courtesy of Nigerian Army/Facebook















About 1,200 detainees, rounded up in mass arrests in northeastern Nigeria with no evidence presented against them, are currently detained at the army’s Giwa barracks in the city of Maidiguri, Amnesty International said in a report. The organization also cited overcrowding, a ten-fold increase in detainees since 2014 and unsanitary conditions, writing that dehydration and disease are widespread at the camp.

“The discovery that babies and young children have died in appalling conditions in military detention is both harrowing and horrifying. We have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the high death rate of detainees in Giwa barracks but these findings show that, for both adults and children, it remains a place of death,” said Amnesty International director Netsanet Belay.

The report, which noted bodies of children as young as five months were observed by witnesses and interviewees, is the latest in a series of negative accounts of the Nigerian army’s treatment of suspects in its nine-year war with Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram. The army offered no comment on the Amnesty International statement but previously said it organized a human rights office to check reports of abuse.

Mass public releases of suspects from the Giwa barracks occurred earlier this year, demonstrating that the roundup and incarceration of children is common. In February, the release of 275 people wrongly held on “suspicion of being involved in terrorist or insurgent activities” included “142 males, 49 females, 22 under-aged, 50 children of cleared witnesses,” Maj. Gen. Hassan Umaru said.

At least 136 men have died while in detention at the barracks, including at least 28 men who appeared to have gunshot wounds, the Amnesty International report said.

It called for the immediate closure of the Giwa barracks and the transfer of all detainees to civilian authorities.

By Ed Adamczyk