(New York, December 14, 2000)
The restoration of civilian rule in Nigeria has not seen a reduction of human rights violations in the country's oil-producing regions, Human Rights Watch said in a backgrounder released today.
Soldiers, naval personnel, and paramilitary Mobile Police deployed across the Niger Delta carry out summary executions, assaults and other abuses on an ongoing basis, Human Rights Watch said. Nor have security forces been punished for the deeds of the past: In December 1999, soldiers killed hundreds of people in retaliation for the deaths of twelve policemen during an army assault on the community of Odi, in Bayelsa State. No one has been prosecuted in connection with these atrocities, committed largely against unarmed civilians.
The Human Rights Watch backgrounder describes a recent incident in which soldiers and naval personnel posted at a flow station operated by Italian oil company Agip opened fire on several boats without warning. The youths in the boats dived into the water in order to escape, but eight were killed at the site, and another died later in hospital.
"The new government has taken some steps to improve the situation in the Niger Delta. But the basic dynamic there has not changed: when local people protest, the security forces use indiscriminate lethal force in response."
Africa Division Executive Director
Human Rights Watch
"The new government has taken some steps to improve the situation in the Niger Delta," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "But the basic dynamic there has not changed: when local people protest, the security forces use indiscriminate lethal force in response."
In Ogoniland, although the severe repression of the military government of Gen. Sani Abacha is past, the security forces continue, on occasion to harrass those who oppose the resumption of oil production, which has been closed since 1993. In March and April 2000, repressive force was once again used in Ogoniland, when paramilitary Mobile Police deployed to the village of K-Dere, Gokana local government area. Several Ogoni civilians were killed and a number of others detained for various periods and charged
Human Rights Watch called for the Nigerian government to institute criminal prosecution of those allegedly responsible for the abuses, and for Agip to undertake an immediate review of security provision at its Nigerian facilities.