There is no doubt that the entire human rights community in Nigeria and indeed the world over will continue to miss the immediate past Military Chief Lt-General Yusuf Tukur Buratai for bequeathing a record of impeccable human rights record to his successor, General Ibrahim Attahiru. It’s also a welcome development when the new Army Chief pledged to uphold the legacies of his predecessor.

Only recently, a leading civil rights advocacy group.  Human Rights writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA)  in its submission to the brand new  Military Chief dated February 1, 2021, asserted that the Association will continue to partner with the  Nigerian Military within the areas of promotion and protection of the human rights of all Nigerians,  regardless of gender, tribe or religion, assuring further collaboration, partnership and improved relations in the protection of human rights of the citizens.

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Based on HURIWA, “It’s often during armed conflicts that human rights are infringed upon the most. Therefore, over the years, experts have focused mush of attention on the formulation of instruments aimed at alleviating human suffering during war and conflict.

Today, three areas of modern international law try to provide protection to victims of war: human rights law, refugee law and humanitarian law. While these fields are carefully linked, they should be distinguished systematically. Refugee law has been discussed in Part IV. This chapter focuses on international humanitarian law, which differs from human rights regulation in that it concentrates on specified conflictrelated acts and doesn’t give rise to individual claims.”

“Humanitarian law applies in armed battle, restricting the actions of warring parties, providing for protection and humane treatment of persons who are not taking part or can no longer participate within the hostilities. Like international human rights regulation, humanitarian regulation protects the lives and dignity of individuals, prohibiting torture or cruel treatment, prescribing rights for persons subject to a criminal justice procedure, prohibiting discrimination and setting out provisions for the protection of women and children. In addition, humanitarian legislation deals with the conduct of hostilities, combatant and prisoner of war status and the protection of the Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal emblems.”

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“A distinction is generally made between the legislation designed to protect navy and civilian victims of armed conflicts on the one hand, and the laws governing the way war is waged, on the other.

“The international law of armed conflicts, of which international humanitarian law is part, was formulated much earlier than international human rights law. Important phases in the development of the humanitarian law of armed conflicts were the (diplomatic) Conferences of Paris (1856), Geneva (1864), St. Petersburg (1868), Brussels (1874), The Hague (1899, 1907) and Geneva (1949 and 1977).”

Citing authority from Icelandic Human Rights Centre, HURIWA reminded the Service chief that: “The international legislation instruments adopted at these conferences form the basis of modern hu471 Human Rights and Armed Conflict humanitarian law, the most relevant being the four Geneva Conventions (1949) and their two Additional Protocols (1977). The principal goal of the four Geneva Conventions was to set out humanitarian rules to be followed in international armed conflict.

The Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the Fourth Geneva Convention) lists a number of actions which the parties must refrain from in all circumstances. These include actions which might be recognised as violating the most basic human rights, such as violence endangering life, torture and physical or moral coercion, as well as non-compliance with many due process rights.

The Convention forbids within the strongest phrases the utilisation of human shields. It additionally provides that civilians are probably not compelled to work for occupying power unless certain strict conditions are met (Article 51). The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, which were adopted by the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977), are major developments in this context,”   HURIWA acknowledged.

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