Nigerian human rights officials to investigate report the military forced abortions on thousands of women
A Human Rights commission in Nigeria says it will investigate reports that the country’s military has run a secret abortion program that conducted tens of thousands of forced abortions on women suspected of having been impregnated by Boko Haram terrorists.
Officials from the United Nations, the Nigerian government and other partners met at the National Human Rights Commission headquarters in the capital city of Abuja on Friday and said they will probe the report on the mass abortions carried out by the military, VOA News reported.
The move from Nigerian officials follows a Reuters report earlier this month that the military had conducted at least 10,000 secret and often forced abortions on women who had been suspected of having been impregnated by Boko Haram militants since 2013 as the nation looked to crack down on the insurgency group.
After speaking with victims, health care workers and military members, the report detailed that a clandestine abortion program had been launched because senior officials had reportedly believed that infants born to insurgent fathers were “predestined” to “one day take up arms against the Nigerian government.”
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One civilian health care worker described the program as “sanitizing the society” as women, largely without their consent, were given pills and injections to force abortions after having been kidnapped and often raped by members of Boko Haram.
Four soldiers described for the publication how they had been told by their superiors that the abortions were necessary to “destroy insurgent fighters before they could be born.”
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Soldiers detailed how women would either be separated in the field following rescue operations or later taken in groups to military facilities or civilian hospitals to undergo a required abortion.
“When allegations like these are made, for us as a human rights commission, we always like to apply due process, and that would mean we’ll hear both sides of the story before we draw any conclusions,” Anthony Ojukwu, the executive secretary of the national human rights commission, told VOA News on Friday. “We will be calling on the relevant agencies to investigate this, so that we can be making the correct analysis of the situation.”
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Boko Haram, a militant group who seeks to impose a strict Islamic state in the region, has terrorized Christians across the country for years, carrying out executions and kidnappings, including the 2014 kidnapping of nearly 300 school children.