IWRAW Asia Pacific is an international women’s human rights organisation working to achieve the full and effective realisation of the rights guaranteed to women and girls under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (“CEDAW”). Nigeria ratified CEDAW in 1985 and is required to comply with its duties and obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of women and girls and to achieve gender equality. The recent kidnapping of 234 Nigerian schoolgirls from their boarding school in north-eastern Nigeria by religious extremists has outraged us and the entire international community. This conduct is a gross violation of the fundamental human rights of these girls to dignity, liberty, education, life and to their right to peace and security. Reports have emerged that they have been sold into slavery for paltry sums and that the kidnapping was prompted by resistance to the education of girls. Irrespective of the motivation this is criminal conduct which justifies the highest penalty.

We join the call to President Goodluck Jonathan to take every possible step to search for these girls and to ensure that they are immediately found and returned to the safety of their families unharmed. We call for the transgressors to be arrested and charged and reparations made to the families and the girls, as well as effective measures put in place to prohibit further transgressions of their human rights and those of any other girl in Nigeria.  We call upon the international community, represented by the High Commission of Human Rights and the UN Secretary General, to utilise the remedies available in the UN Charter and international law to take immediate action to address this heinous criminal conduct. We call upon the business community to provide the necessary resources and means to ensure the facilitation of the search and restoration of rights of the girls.

Like girls the world over, these Nigerian girls deserve full and effective implementation of their human rights, including the right to personal security, and the right to receive education without fear. They deserve nothing less than the strongest international condemnation, as well as co-operation and strong mobilisation of resources to ensure their safe return and continued safety. We owe them this as human beings who care about injustice and humanity and who claim to be bound by the glorious principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.   Bring them home. Observe their rights. NOW!!!