Amnesty International (AI) has refuted the claim by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, that it apologised to the Nigerian Government for ‘factual errors’ contained in its 2012 report.
“When amnesty was here, they said they were sorry; if you are sorry, you say it outside, let people know. I have given them the invitation to come and open an office so that when they write, it will be factual,” Mr. Ashiru said on Tuesday at an international conference on “Human Rights, Human Security and Conflict” organised by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in Abuja
Responding to PREMIUM TIMES enquiry regarding Mr. Ashiru’s claim, AI Deputy Africa Director, Lucy Freeman, said her organisation is “deeply disappointed.”
“Amnesty International has never – publicly nor privately – apologised for any of the contents of the report and stands by its research, conclusions and findings, 100 per cent,” she said.
“In a meeting with the Attorney General in Abuja on 1 August 2013, Amnesty International reiterated its concerns about grave human rights violations committed by the Nigerian security forces and received assurances from government that it was conducting investigations into them,” she added.
Instead of spreading falsehood, Ms Freeman said, “the government should be demonstrating its commitment o human rights by investigating credible and serious allegations of human rights violations by its security forces.”
Mr. Ashiru’s claim sounded curious at first because AI had published a statement last November in the wake of Federal Government condemnation of the report.
“The attack by senior Nigerian officials on an Amnesty International report that documents human rights violations by the country’s police and military is a diversionary tactic – shooting the messenger when the security forces should really be concentrating on putting their house in order,” the statement read.
“The Nigerian government and the security forces should recognize that the population will not be truly secure until everyone in Nigeria can be confident not only that the risk of attacks from Boko Haram has been reduced, but also that they will not face human rights violations at the hands of the very state security forces mandated with their protection,” the statement added.