Watchdog calls for shutting down of notorious army detention center in NE Nigeria where scores of suspects have been killed.
LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) - Children and babies are dying in appalling conditions at a military detention center hosting Boko Haram suspects in Nigeria's northeastern Maiduguri city, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
The human rights watchdog in its new report said that at least 12 children died in Giwa barracks since February this year, mostly as a result of overcrowding, hunger and disease that resulted from unsanitary conditions at the facility.
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s director for Africa, said: “The discovery that babies and young children have died in appalling conditions in military detention is both harrowing and horrifying.
“We have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the high death rate of detainees in Giwa barracks but these findings show that for both adults and children, it remains a place of death.”
The organization called on Nigerian authorities to permanently shut down the facility.
Belay said it is time for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to uphold his “pledge to launch an urgent investigation into these deaths, release the children and shut down Giwa barracks detention center without delay.”
According to the report, at least 149 detainees died at the detention center in Giwa barracks between January 2016 and April 28, 2016. The deadliest month was March that witnessed 65 deaths; April saw 39 deaths, including eight babies and children, the report added.
The group also said that children under five, including babies, had been held in three overcrowded women’s cells.
“In the last year, there has been a ten-fold increase in the number of detainees in these cells rising from 25 in 2015 to 250 in early 2016.
“Unsanitary conditions mean that disease is rife. Amnesty International understands that there were around 20 babies and children under five in each of the three cells,” according to the report.
It said that concerns about conditions in Giwa barracks and other military detention facilities have been raised since 2013.
In June 2015, an Amnesty International report revealed that 7,000 detainees had died at military detention centers in Nigeria since 2011 as a result of starvation, thirst, disease, torture and a lack of medical attention.
The report revealed that in 2013, more than 4,700 bodies were brought to mortuaries from Giwa barracks.
The Nigerian army has so far not reacted to the latest report.