Letter: Accountability on US funds to Nigeria

In this joint letter, Jubilee Campaign called for accountability for the Nigerian government. The United States reveres Nigeria as one of its greatest African partners. The US government must ensure that the funds it provides to the Nigerian government are in no way used to harm the people.

Joint NGO letter on sale of Super Tucano aircraft to Nigeria

Chairman Bob Corker
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Ranking Member Ben Cardin
Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Chairman Ed Royce
House Foreign Affairs Committee

Ranking Member Elliot Engle
House Foreign Affairs Committee

May 10, 2017

Dear Chairman Corker, Senator Cardin, Chairman Royce and Representative Engle,

We the undersigned organizations are writing to convey our concerns regarding reports that the Trump administration is moving forward with plans to sell A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, with mounted machine guns and related parts and logistical support to the government of Nigeria. We believe that given the Nigerian government has not taken adequate action to protect human rights and enforce accountability in the military, this transfer runs a substantial risk of resulting in serious human rights violations.

In June of 2016 many of us expressed concerns over the same proposed sale to President Obama, citing the lack of adequate safeguards and accountability mechanisms to ensure that the Tucano aircraft would be used consistently with international human rights and humanitarian law by the Nigerian military. Those concerns took on a tragic reality with the Nigerian government’s bombing of an Internally Displaced Person’s camp in early 2017 – that bombing effectively scuttled plans to move forward with the sale under the Obama administration. We reiterate those concerns now and ask that you take steps to limit the risks that equipment supplied by the US will be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. The Nigerian government must first agree to implement a comprehensive plan to protect human rights and enforce accountability

Our message to the Obama administration was that the US should insist on securing robust, binding end use/r guarantees, post-delivery monitoring to verify all recipients
are operating consistently with full respect for international human rights and humanitarian law, and end user certificate restrictions are being honored, safeguards against further serious human rights violations, and other credible and measurable progress on accountability within the Nigerian security forces. These recommendations were offered with the aim of ensuring that the United States did not inadvertently facilitate the commission of human rights violations in Nigeria and to ensure that the US is doing everything it can to end the culture of impunity within the Nigerian military with respect to human rights.

In our earlier letter, we listed several incidents of serious human rights violations that indicated a systemic failure to respect human rights and enforce accountability within the Nigerian security forces (see attached). Unfortunately, to date there has been no progress towards investigating any of those past incidents or bringing persons responsible for those violations to justice. Indeed, the Nigerian Air Force bombing of a remote displaced persons camp in Rann in January 2017 demonstrates the urgency of implementing safeguards and monitoring with respect to human rights. The bombing of that camp, close to the Cameroon border, killed at least 126 people (and possibly as many as 200).

Although a panel appointed by the Nigerian Air Force to investigate the tragedy presented its report to the Chief of Air Force in April, the report is yet to be made public and speculations about the bombing are rife. The Chief of Air Force has stated that the bombing was a human error. However, witnesses claim that the fighter jet circled the camp at least twice before it bombed the camp.

In view of the continuing patterns of abuse and potential for misuse of US-supplied equipment, the U.S. Congress should insist that the Nigerian government undertake independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations by the military. Any such reports on human rights violations by the military in northeast Nigeria should be made public, including on the Rann bombing. Further, all victims should receive full reparation, including financial compensation.

Before approving the intended transfer of the Tucano aircraft, Congress should ensure that Nigerian military personnel involved in its operation and command will be rigorously vetted in order to screen out those responsible for past human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law. Moreover, steps should be taken to ensure that personnel operating the equipment are adequately trained to comply with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards.

Furthermore, we ask you as Congressional leaders to insist on binding guarantees from the Nigerian government that the equipment will be used in conformity with US and international law. Likewise, Congress should seek guarantees from the Trump Administration that the Department of Defense will effectively monitor the use of these aircraft for compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

Just a few weeks ago, Ambassador Nikki Haley made well-publicized comments drawing attention to the connection between widespread human rights violations and the breakdown of peace and security. Without strong human rights structures in place, the transfer of the Tucano attack aircraft armed with heavy machine guns could exacerbate the conflict, or fuel new ones.

This is already an established pattern in Nigeria and demonstrates that the hoped for outcome based on the sale may not be achieved. The US must take seriously its responsibility to ensure that the transfer of these arms and equipment does not result in a further deterioration in the respect for human rights in Nigeria. From your position of leadership in the US Congress, we urge you to convey these concerns to the Administration and seek guarantees that all precautions will be taken.

Sincerely,

Amnesty International USA
Peace Action
Peace Direct
Friends Committee on National Legislation.
21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
Jubilee Campaign USA

Religious Liberty Partnership Convenes in Brazil

RLP

Executive Director of Jubilee Campaign, Ann Buwalda, is on the leadership team for the Religious Liberty Partnership. Please read the following press release of the RLP annual conference that recently took place in Brazil.

PRESS RELEASE:

Religious Liberty Partnership Holds First Ever Consultation in Latin America; Meets with Brazilian President and Foreign Minister

(Brasilia, Brazil) The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP) just concluded its annual consultation last week in the Brazilian capital city of Brasilia, with 80 key leaders from 24 countries participating. Having held previous international consultations in Europe, South Asia, Turkey, North America and South East Asia, this was the first time in its 11-year history the RLP consultation was in Latin America.

“One reason we came to Brazil was data showing it as the best country for religious liberty policy.,” said Brian O’Connell, Facilitator of the RLP. “We wanted to come, celebrate that fact, learn from what Brazil is doing, and continue to encourage the country in that direction.” (Note: documentation released by the Pew Research Center has showed Brazil with the fewest religious restrictions in the world.)

Hosted by the Brazil-based organization, ANAJURE (the National Association of Evangelical Christian Lawyers), the event included closed plenaries for the planning of joint actions in defense of international religious liberty and a public seminar held at the Brazil Federal Senate on the protection of religious freedom for all faiths.

Speakers at the RLP Consultation included Federal Deputy Leonardo Quintão, President of the Parliamentary Coalition for Refugees and Humanitarian Aid of the Brazilian National Congress; Dr. Gerardo Amarilla, former chairman of the House of Representatives in Uruguay; Dr. Davi Charles Gomes, Chancellor of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, and Russell Stendal, a key player in the recent peace agreement in Colombia. The group also had audiences with Brazil President Michel Temer; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chancellor Aloysio Nunes; the Federal Senate and Chamber of Members.

“Thanks to the efforts of ANAJURE and Deputy Leonardo Quintao, we were able to have significant meetings both with Chancellor Nunes and President Temer,” said RLP Chairman Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide in the UK. “Both men showed a deep understanding of the issues surrounding international religious freedom, and indeed appeared to be fully committed to playing their part in promoting it”

“It was amazing to sense God’s presence, the moving of His spirit, the oneness of mind, and the resolve to collaborate and work together, stated Godfrey Yogarjah, Deputy Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance. “I have no doubt that this partnership comprising CEOs of over 60 organizations from 25 nations – each committed to advancing freedom of religion and belief – is only possible because God brought it together.” (Note: RLP Members include the WEA Religious Liberty Commission and the International Institute for Religious Freedom (a WEA Initiative). Many other RLP members are also WEA Global Partners or Associate Members.

In the meetings with the Brazilian President and Foreign Minister, religious freedom reports were presented. Among them was the report of ANAJURE given at the Organization of American States (OAS), entitled Religious Freedom in the Inter-American System of Human Rights, launched at the opening of the RLP Consultation. “We were proud to stand arm in arm with our international colleagues in demonstrating our commitment to international religious liberty,” said Dr. Uziel Santana, President of ANAJURE and another speaker at the consultation. “In delivering these reports we showed that in places like Cuba, Mexico and Colombia, we have serious religious liberty violations in Latin America as well. For example, ANAJURE is currently serving 500 families who have been expelled from their homes merely because they converted to Christianity.”

-end

(For further information contact Brian O’Connell, RLP Facilitator: +1 425.218-4718; Brian@RLPartnership.org)

About the RLP:
The Religious Liberty Partnership is a collaboration of Christian organizations from 25 countries focused on international religious liberty for all faiths. It seeks to promote intentional work together on advocacy, research, training, and assistance, as well as raising the awareness of religious liberty violations worldwide.

Jubilee Campaign & North Korean defectors testify at the UN

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On March 17, Executive Director, Ann Buwalda, and staff delivered remarks at an event at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, co-sponsored by Jubilee Campaign. The event was titled North Korean Women: Destitution and Human Trafficking in China.
The event featured three North Korean women defectors: Grace Jo, Lim Hye-jin, and Lee So-yeon. Each woman shared a powerful testimony of the horrible abuse they faced in North Korea and in China.

 

Ms. Jo is one of three family members who survived from her large North Korean family. During the panel Ms. Jo explained that the three primary reasons women flee from North Korea to China are to make money, to obtain health care, and to find freedom because these things are critically lacking in North Korea. She described the heroism of the North Korean women she remembers from her childhood who risked their lives and faced humiliation to provide for their families. Many women go to China hopeful they will find opportunities to improve their live, but most get exploited by Chinese brokers and repatriated to North Korea by Chinese authorities. Grace herself experienced repatriation and torture. She recounted, “I remember when Chinese officials sent me back to North Korea; both times people were suffering, being tortured, and starving. The only memories I have from North Korea are fear, hunger, and sorrows. I don’t have any happy memories from my home country.”

Ms. Lim escaped North Korea three times. The first two times that she escaped to China, she was sent back to North Korea by Chinese authorities. She said, “They searched my body for hidden money and goods and undressed me.” She described the horrid conditions in the prisons and detention centers. Authorities make women strip naked, as they did with Ms. Lim, and force them to do squats continuously trying to find money that may be hiding in their bodies’ cavities. Ms. Lim also told the story of how a woman who shared a room with her in prison gave birth to a baby while they were in the prison after being impregnated by a Chinese man. The woman was transferred to another prison and forced to leave her baby behind. A few days later, a security guard killed the child.

Ms. Lee explained the trafficking of North Korean women is worse than ever with the developments of cyber trafficking. Chinese brokers typically sell North Korean women to unmarried Chinese men, but now they are also forcing them to perform for internet pornography. Ms. Lee said, “Brokers in China are putting them in apartment rooms, locked up, and are forcing [them to be] sex slaves…In that locked up room, the women are selling their bodies through the internet site, and they don’t even get paid by the brokers.”

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After the panel of witnesses told their stories, our expert panel consisting of Jubilee Campaign Executive Director, Ann Buwalda, and the Executive Director of The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Greg Scarlatoiu, gave further analysis and recommendations. Mr. Scarlatoiu explained that his organization’s research has revealed that North Korean prison camps have expanded for the sole purpose of accommodating more North Korean women who have been repatriated by China. Ms. Buwalda explained that if China would simply adhere to its international obligation to protect refugees the desperate North Korean women who continue to pour over its borders could find assistance rather than destitution and exploitation. She described the necessity for the international community to pressure China into protecting these refugees.

After the event, the panelists, attendees, and press went to the Chinese mission to deliver a letter requesting China to stop repatriating North Korean refugees. Then select members, including Jubilee Campaign staff participated in a meeting with the South Korean ambassador to discuss strategies for dealing with North Korea’s human rights abuses.

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Unprotected and Exploited: North Korean Women & Children

2017 ICNK Side Event poster

 
UN: Justice for North Korean Women and Children
ICNK Co-Sponsors Panel Discussion in Geneva on March 10
(Geneva, March 10, 2016) – The North Korean government needs to answer for its systematic violations of the rights of women and children, a coalition of expert groups said today, ahead of a panel discussion on the topic. The coalition includes People for Successful Corean Reunification (PSCORE), Human Rights Watch, and the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK).

North Koreans who have escaped the country report that the government systematically indoctrinates and exploits people from childhood, and fails to take action against acts of physical and sexual violence against women and girls. “Women and children who are abused in North Korea have no way to ensure their voices are heard and nowhere to turn to for protection,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Human Rights Council needs to be a light in the darkness for these people, and pressure Pyongyang’s rulers to treat women and children’s rights with the importance they deserve.”

The event “Unprotected and Exploited: North Korean Women and Children” takes place on March 10 at 2:00 p.m. in room XXVI at the Palais de Nations in Geneva, on the sidelines of the 34th session of the Human Rights Council.

It will feature two international experts: Tomás Ojea Quintana, the new special rapporteur on
the situation of human rights in North Korea; and Sonja Biserko, expert of group of
independent experts on accountability, and former member of the Commission of Inquiry (COI)
on North Korea. Three North Korean escapees will also share their experiences, including Choi
Ju-Yeon, who was forced to do hard labor in school; Lee So-Yeon, who will talk about
discrimination and violence against women and girls; and Park Kyung-Ho, who was first forced
to labor in an orphanage, and then later in paramilitary brigades.
The organizers of the event, joined by Christian Solidarity Worldwide, the Jubilee Campaign,
and Human Rights Without Frontiers, call for North Korea be held accountable for its failure to
comply with its commitments as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and
the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
Former Korean Workers Party officials who have escaped the country told researchers from the
assembled groups that government authorities do not acknowledge cases of child exploitation,
nor consider acts of violence against women as serious crimes, so they rarely prosecute
perpetrators and do little to protect victims.
North Korean students and teachers told Human Rights Watch that their schools have forced
them to work without pay on farms for a month at a time at least twice a year – during the
ploughing and seeding of the fields, and again to harvest the crops. Other forced labor includes
gathering scrap metals and old paper, breaking rocks transporting them, gathering firewood,
picking wild greens, and growing crops such as corn, radish, potatoes or cabbage.
The government has also compelled numerous North Korean children to join paramilitary
forced labor brigades when they reach the age of 16, and work for extended periods of time
without pay. These brigades are controlled and operated by the ruling Korean Workers Party,
have military structures, and work primarily on construction of buildings and other forms of
basic public infrastructure.
“Exploitation is just a normal part of everyday life for any child in North Korea whose parent
cannot pay bribes to avoid it,” said Kwon Eun-Kyoung, Secretary General of the ICNK. “The
government calls it an expression of loyalty, but anywhere else in the world, it is considered a
horrible crime to condemn and halt immediately.”
North Korean escapees and party officials allege that unwanted sexual contact, such as men
indiscriminately touching women’s body parts on trains and in public areas like markets, is
common. Also, under the current economic system, in which government regulators are almost
all men, women are particularly vulnerable to coercion, which can include both sexual demands
and bribes. The cost of refusing such demands can include arbitrary arrest, being sent to prison
or forced labor camps for engaging in market or trading activities, confiscation of goods and
money, increased future scrutiny, being deprived of means of transportation or business
opportunities, and facing increased physical and sexual violence.
The United Nations’ COI on rights abuses in North Korea found in 2014 that the gravity, scale
and nature of violations revealed a state without parallel in the contemporary world, and added
that the violations amounted to crimes against humanity. The Human Rights Council and the
UN General Assembly have repeatedly condemned the human rights situation in North Korea.
The UN Security Council has recognized the gravity of the situation by addressing North Korea’s
bleak human rights record as a threat to regional peace and security as a formal agenda item
three years in a row.
“The Human Rights Council should urgently provide additional financial support and expertise
in international criminal justice to its office in Seoul,” said Young Il Kim, director of PSCORE.
“Women and children in North Korea need the international community to stand with them
and make sure these unchecked abuses end.”

The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea is a joint effort of
over 40 human rights groups worldwide that seeks to protect the human rights of North Koreans
and to hold the Pyongyang government accountable for its abuses and violations of the human
rights of the North Korean people.

Members and supporters of the Coalition include:
Advocates International Global Council
Asia Justice and Rights
Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances
Asian Human Rights & Humanity Association of Japan
Burma Partnership (Thailand)
Christian Lawyers Association for Paraguay
Christian Solidarity Worldwide
Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (USA)
Conectas (Brazil)
Council for Human Rights in North Korea (Canada)
Freedom House (USA)
NK Watch (ROK)
Free North Korea Radio (ROK)
Han Voice (Canada)
HH Katacombs (ROK)
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Without Frontiers (Belgium)
Inter-American Federation of Christian Lawyers
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
COMJAN (Investigation Commission on Missing Japanese Probably Related to North
Korea)(Japan)
Japanese Lawyers Association for Abduction and Other Human Rights Issues in North Korea
Jubilee Campaign (USA)
Justice for North Korea (ROK)
Kontras (Indonesia)
Liberty in North Korea – LiNK (USA)
Life Funds for North Korean Refugees (Japan)
Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights (ROK)
NK Intellectual Solidarity (ROK)
No Fence (Japan)
North Korea Freedom Coalition
Odhikar (Bangladesh)
Open North Korea (ROK)
People In Need (Czech Republic)
PSCORE (ROK)
PSALT NK (Prayer Service Action Love Truth for North Korea)
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (USA)
SARAM – Für Menschen in Nordkorea (Germany)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center (USA)
The Society to Help Returnees to North Korea (Japan)
Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (ROK)
World Without Genocide (USA)
Young Defectors’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (ROK)
Yuki Akimoto, Burmainfo (Japan)
Tomoharu Ebihara
David Hawk, Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, Institute for the Study of Human Rights,
and author of Hidden Gulag
Ken Kato, Director, Human Rights in Asia (Japan)
Tomoyuki Kawazoe, Representative, Kanagawa Association for The Rescue of Japanese
Kidnapped by North Korea / Member, Reporters Without Borders
Suzanne Scholte, Seoul Peace Prize Recipient & Defence Forum Foundation (USA)

PRESS RELEASE: Terrorism in Nigeria

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On March 6, 2017 Jubilee Campaign held a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland at the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council titled Terrorism in Nigeria: Boko Haram succeeded by rising Fulani militancy. Panelists of the press conference included Mr. Mark Lipdo, founder of Stefanos Foundation; Ms. Fatima Njoku, lawyer for Stefanos Foundation; Mr. Mark Jacob, former Attorney General of Kaduna State, Nigeria; Mr. Solomon Musa, National President of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union; and Ms. Mirjam Bos, the Program Officer for Jubilee Campaign Netherlands.

This panel of experts discussed the alarming increase in militarization in North and Central Nigeria, that has resulted in the death of thousands of minority ethnic persons. The rising militia is made up of members of the Fulani ethnic tribe. Therefore, they are referred to as the Fulani militants. These militants have launched systematic attacks on farming communities that are predominately Christian. During their attacks, they kill villagers, raze homes, and destroy farmland. Many times, they then move in to occupy the attacked village. Over 4,000 people have been killed in the past three years. The panelists expressed their distress that the Nigerian government has taken little action to address the violence and has provided no support for its tens of thousands of victims. Mr. Lipdo described, “Most of the communities that have been burnt and people killed within them, there has never been any compensation done by the government, so the people are suffering. They have nowhere to sleep; they have no food because their farmlands have been burnt.”

Because the Nigerian government has proven unwilling to protect its citizens, the panelists appealed for outside support. “We keep complaining, government appears to be uninterested in what we are saying, and that is why one of the reasons we are here is to ask for intervention,” Mr. Jacob stated.

Those pleading for help have been rejected by the Nigerian government and have remained unheard by much of the international community. Jubilee Campaign is working to inform the international community and advocate for intervention.

Watch the press conference here.