Senator wants review of U.S. security assistance to Nigeria following abortion report

NAIROBI/WASHINGTON, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has called for a review of U.S. security assistance and cooperation programs in Nigeria after Reuters reported on an illegal abortion program and the killing of children. asked to come out. It was carried out by the Nigerian military.

In a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken seen by Reuters, Risch also called on the State Department to examine the possibility of using sanctions in addition to a swift review of US security assistance and cooperation.

“I look forward to hearing more about the Department’s planned response to the serious and repugnant allegations against a longtime beneficiary of US security assistance and cooperation that, if found to be credible, have caused irreparable harm to generations of Nigerian citizens and the United States. credibility in the region,” Risch said in a Friday letter.

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Nigeria’s information minister was not immediately available to comment on a request for review.

A Reuters investigation this month found that since at least 2013, Nigeria’s military has run a clandestine, systematic and illegal abortion program in the country’s northeast, ending at least 10,000 pregnancies among women and girls.

Many were abducted and raped by Islamist militants. Witnesses said the resistance was beaten, held at gunpoint or drugged.

Nigerian military leaders have denied the program ever existed, saying the Reuters reports were part of a foreign effort to undermine the country’s fight against insurgents.

Reuters also reported last week that Nigeria’s army and allied security forces have massacred children in the country’s northeast during a grueling 13-year war against Islamist extremists.

Nigerian military leaders told Reuters the army had never targeted children for killing. They said the message in the article was part of a foreign effort to insult Nigerians and undermine the country’s fight against insurgency.

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Nigeria’s military chief on Friday called on the National Human Rights Commission to launch an independent investigation into an illegal abortion program reported by Reuters.

The Human Rights Commission has reportedly already said it will launch an investigation.

Asked about Risch’s letter, a US State Department spokesman said the United States was still reviewing the Reuters reports and would determine next steps.

“Decisions to continue providing military training and equipment are made on a case-by-case basis and take into account various factors, including respect for human rights and compliance with the laws of armed conflict,” the spokesman said.

“Our existing defense trade to Nigeria includes robust components aimed at promoting human rights, non-harm to civilians, military justice and accountability.”

The department vets all nominated units of the Nigerian security forces for appropriate training and support and provides security support to the unit if there is credible evidence of gross human rights abuses. will not, added the press secretary.

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Earlier this year, the United States approved nearly $1 billion worth of arms sales to Nigeria after Nigeria last year acquired Embraer-made A-29 Super Tucanos, a low-flying aircraft that can provide infantry close-air support like a helicopter. ‘slaved. .

The deal, which was approved in April, was put on hold by the Nigerian government over concerns of possible human rights abuses.

The United States has also committed approximately $6 million between 2016 and 2020 to the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.

Reporting by David Lewis in Nairobi and Daphne Psaledakis and Idrees Ali in Washington; Edited by Lisa Shumaker

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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