SERAP calls for judicial commission of inquiry over election-related killings

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Federal government to “urgently set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate and ensure justice for the victims and families of the bomb attack in the electoral commission office in Suleja, Niger state last week where about 13 people were killed, and 7 others injured; and other victims of election violence and intimidation across the country.”

In a public statement dated 10 April 2011 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, the group expressed “serious concern about continuing incidents of violence and climate of intimidation and unnecessary loss of lives around the 2011 elections.

The government’s failure to bring suspected perpetrators of election violence and killings to justice is unacceptable as impunity is the major obstacle to the exercise by the citizens of the right to participate in their government, and freedom from want.”

“Considering the continuing and

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increasing scale of the problem of election-related violence and killings, a judicial commission of inquiry into the problem is now urgently required. The government has not been able to tackle the problem of lack of security around the 2011 elections.

The time has now come for the government to establish a judicial commission of inquiry to consider the root causes of election-related violence and killings and to ensure justice for victims and their families.”

“The longer it takes to do this, the worse the situation will get. Election-related violence and killings are possible to solve, what is now required is the political will to do so by prompting setting up a judicial commission to probe the problem. But we will consider litigation options should the government fail to do this,” the group added.

The group urged President Goodluck Jonathan “to urgently set up a judicial commission of enquiry to investigate all reports of political killings carried out during the 2011 elections, and to ensure that suspected perpetrators are identified and brought to justice. The proposed commission should be able to identify future measures to combat this practice.”

“We also call on all presidential candidates and leaders of political parties to promptly and publicly denounce electoral violence and intimidation whenever it takes place, and to back the call for the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry on all election-related killings.

Otherwise, the perpetrators of electoral crimes and violence will continue to walk free from justice, and there will be no end to the use of violence as a political tool,” the group added.

The group said: “Free and fair elections can be held only where there is an environment which seeks to provide popular participation, promote human rights and guarantee fundamental freedoms, including security of lives and property. But unpunished electoral violence and intimidation makes it difficult for fair, free and transparent elections, let alone longer-term democratic processes that can guarantee respect for human rights, to take root and function properly.”

The group stressed that, “Through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations established that everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives and that [t]he will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government: this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections. But continuing violence and intimidation in the electoral processes directly undermines and violates the realization of this internationally human right.”

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