Global Justice Center Calls on International Criminal Court to Investigate Genocide of Chibok Schoolgirls

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On April 14th, 2015, a year after their abduction, GJC sent a letter and a brief to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, urging her to investigate whether Boko Haram is perpetrating genocide against the Christian community in Nigeria with their kidnapping of the Chibok schoolgirls. This kidnapping is exactly the act of genocide, as defined in the Genocide Convention, called the “forcible transfer of children,” and defining it as genocide would spur global action to ensure justice for and rescue the missing girls.

Photo by Eric Lafforgue

"There is an enormous gulf between the global concern for women and the political will to do anything about it." - GJC President, Janet Benshoof

On the night of April 14th, 2014, according to the New York Times, 276 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria by the terrorist group Boko Haram. The abduction ignited worldwide outrage, sparked a vigorous social media campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, and drew condemnation from political leaders around the world.

However, today, on the one-year anniversary of the kidnapping, the majority of the schoolgirls are still missing.

"The young Chibok school girls have been living lives of daily terror and torture, including rape, forced conversion to Islam, forced marriage, forced pregnancy and sexual slavery, for 365 days and there has been no internationally motivated effort to rescue them,” says GJC President, Janet Benshoof, “this demonstrates the enormous gulf between the global concern for women and the political will to do anything about it.”

Not only have the girls not been found, but there has been no accountability for the heinous crimes committed against them, which is why, today, the Global Justice Center (GJC) is urging the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, to investigate whether Boko Haram, who recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is perpetrating genocide against the Christian community in Nigeria. The abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls, among others, in Nigeria is exactly the act of genocide, as defined in the Genocide Convention, called the “forcible transfer of children.” The essence of genocide is not mass killing but the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. Removing children from a group destroys its future, and has been a tool of genocide for as long as the legal concept has existed. This argument can be found in the letter and brief and that GJC submitted to Fatou Bensouda on April 14, 2015 and can be found on the GJC website here.

Ms. Benshoof says, "If Prosecutor Bensouda examines Boko Haram’s gender-based abductions as genocide it would put all countries unequivocally on notice that genocide is occurring in Nigeria, propelling them to action. All states and the international community have the duty to prevent and halt genocide. It would also send a powerful message to other perpetrators, including terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria who are increasingly using the kidnapping of young girls and women as a tool in their campaign of terror, that genocide will not be tolerated. "

This year marks not only the one year anniversary of our failure to rescue the Chibok girls, but also the 100 year anniversary of one of the largest campaigns of child transfer in history: the Armenian Genocide. In 1915, tens of thousands of Armenian women and children were forcibly removed from their families, then “Islamized” through placement with Muslim families, in Muslim orphanages, or forced marriages to Muslim men.

Ms. Benshoof states, "The ICC has admirably taken historic steps to put justice for women and girls at the forefront of its agenda. And in this case, there is a way to ensure justice for (and rescue of) the abducted girls of Nigeria as well as to establish a precedent of intolerance for crimes of this nature. The GJC calls on the ICC to demonstrate its will to do so."

GJC’s letter to the Prosecutor can be found here. Accompanying Article 15 communication can be found here, with supporting Annex found here.

For further information or press inquiries, please contact:
Sarah Vaughan, Director of External Relations, Global Justice Center, by e-mail at svaughan(at) or by phone a 212.725.6530, ext. 204.
Sherrie Russell-Brown, Senior Attorney for Global Security, Global Justice Center, by email at srussellbrown(at) or by phone at 212.725.6530 ext.212.

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Sarah Vaughan
Global Justice Center
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