Amnesty voices doubts about secret Boko Haram trials

ABUJA – On Wednesday, Amnesty International said it had huge concerns about the mass trials of Boko Haram suspects, with press and public banned from the hearings on security grounds.

The proceedings started this week at four civilian courts that have been set up at a military base in Kainji, in the central Niger state. 1669 suspects are due to appear before judges.

The government has also said that about 651 others held in the north eastern city of Maiduguri will be tried once the cases in Kainji are completed.

The director of Amnesty Nigeria, Osai Ojigho said that the trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for those that are affected by the long running conflict.

“However, the fact the trials are taking place behind closed doors, with no access for the media or the public, raises huge concerns,” he said in a statement.

“Public hearings are crucial for protecting an individual’s right to a fair trial and due process.”

On Tuesday, 300 suspects were officially remanded in custody for 90 days while one defendant was transferred for trial elsewhere.

The country of Nigeria has promised that every defendant will get legal representation.

Rights groups have accused Nigeria’s military of arbitrarily arresting thousands of civilians since the start of the Islamist insurgency in 2009.

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