Group seeks adherence to rights laws in terrorism fight
The representative of International Committee of the Red Cross (ACRC), Catherine Gribbin, expressed need for countries engaged in the fight against terrorism to understand the legal regime under which the war is domiciled and adhere to the rules of engagement to avoid unnecessary loss of lives, especially those of the civilian population.
Speaking yesterday at a two-day technical assistance and strengthening of national and regional capacity to prevent acquisition and diversion of weapons in the Lake Chad basin, organised by the United Nations (UN) Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), in collaboration with the Small Arms Division of the ECOWAS Commission, as well as the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gribbin urged the military to ensure protection of civilian population, as well as respect rights of the arrested and detained suspected terrorists, as enshrined in international laws treaties.
In attendance were officers of Nigerian Armed Forces, Customs, Immigration and other relevant agencies involved in the fight against illicit influx of arms in the country.
Also at the event was the representative of the Counter-Terrorism Centre and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS Africa), which gave an evaluation study on the implementation of the regional approach towards combating illicit flows of arms and ammunition in the region.
In his welcome address, Deputy Director, Political Affairs Officer, UNREC, Dr. Jiaming Miao, expressed fears that illicit proliferation, circulation and misuse of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) have become a widespread phenomenon in the Lake Chad Basin, which Nigeria is part of.
He added that the resulting humanitarian crises from the illicit influx of arms have constituted obstacles to socio-economic development and has led to increasing criminal and terrorist acts in Nigeria and neighbouring African countries.
He stated that it was in recognition of the above development that the UN Security Council, by its resolution 2178 (2014), requested countries, among others measures, to prevent the acquisition and diversion of weapons by terrorist groups.
A representative of ECOWAS, Mr. Oluwafisan Bankale, noted that the devastating effect of small arms in the region cannot be underestimated, as easy access to light weapons has elevated small arms to a level it could be described as weapons of mass destruction in the region.
He added that arms diversion remained a challenge that must be overcome if Nigeria and indeed Africa are to experience meaningful development.
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