More than 2,000 Boko Haram detainees will be going before the court over the coming weeks. The people will be judged for their support of one of the most active and brutal terrorist groups in the world. Though it is good that the government are going to hold people accountable, there are major concerns that the trials will not be fair nor will the court have the capacity to deal with all of them. There will be four judges presiding over the cases and the trials will be done secretly. This has caused many people to fear for the legality or fairness of the trials.
2017-10-09 Nigeria (TheGuardian) T More than 2,300 suspected Islamist militants are expected to appear in court in Nigeria from Monday in an unprecedented series of mass trials that local authorities hope will be seen as evidence of progress in the fight against Boko Haram, one of Africa’s most resilient insurgencies.
All the defendants have been detained since Boko Haram, which means “no to western education”, launched its campaign eight years ago.
The conflict has left at least 20,000 dead in the country’s remote north-east and destabilized a swath of West Africa, displacing millions of people.
But analysts say the trials – which will be held in secret and will see four judges deal with hundreds of cases each – raise serious concerns and could undermine the fight against the group.
“Does the judiciary have the capacity to give so many people charged with very serious offences a fair trial? Have the authorities really captured a quarter of their combat strength? Are they taking into account the fact that a lot of those who committed violence for Boko Haram did so under duress? All these are red flags and very concerning in terms of the broader strategy,” said Ryan Cummings, a South Africa-based expert.
No media reporting of the hearings, which will be held in military facilities, is to be allowed. Umar Ado, a defense lawyer based in Kano, Nigeria’s largest northern city, said that was “as good as denying the public the right to know how the trial is carried out”.
He added: “It sends the wrong signal that justice is not served or the process is compromised.”