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Cablegate: Human Rights Watch On Meetings with Police And

Published: Wed 14 Jul 2004 01:09 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
141309Z Jul 04
UNCLAS ABUJA 001234
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV ASEC PREL NI HUMANRIGHTS
SUBJECT: HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ON MEETINGS WITH POLICE AND
MILITARY
REF: ABUJA 1159
1. (U) Summary: Human Rights Watch (HRW) briefed the
Ambassador about meetings with top police and army officials,
who gave HRW significant meeting time, but stonewalled on all
issues of excessive violence by police and military. End
summary.
2. (U) On the afternoon of July 12, the Ambassador met with
Carina Tertsakian, HRW's London-based Nigeria Researcher, and
Sonya Maldar, a HRW advisor working with a Lagos human rights
NGO. At a June 29 meeting with the Ambassador (reftel) at
the beginning of HRW's Nigeria trip, he had invited HRW back
to discuss its findings at the conclusion of the trip.
3. (SBU) HRW discussed a 60-75 minute meeting with Tafa
Balogun, the Inspector-General of Police, who refused to
engage HRW on the use of excess force by police, particularly
with regard to the "armed robbers" police regularly kill.
When HRW pointed out that the number of armed robbers killed
is unusually close to the number of weapons that have been
"turned in by citizens", Balogun denied any connection. HRW
also brought up police shootings in crowd-control situations,
which Balogun denied, then said he would investigate. HRW
said that Balogun was more interested in discussing police
efforts against corruption, and didn't recognize any problems
with police violence.
4. (SBU) HRW also told the Ambassador about a 90-minute
meeting (originally scheduled for 30 minutes) with General
Alexander Ogomudia, Chief of Defense Staff. When HRW brought
up the massacres at Odi in 1999 and at Zaki Biam in 2001,
Ogomudia completely denied any involvement by the army--"This
is the first time I'm hearing of this"--but nonetheless went
on to discuss details of the events. Ogomudia said that
previous investigations had not blamed the army, and told HRW
that he would not consider any new investigations.
5. (SBU) HRW told the Ambassador that they had contacted the
Information Minister regarding the Zaki Biam "white paper"
that President Obasanjo had promised HRW when he met them on
June 28. The Information Minister told HRW that the white
paper is not available to the public because of a ruling by
Nigeria's Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission
(the "Oputa Panel") that the GON cannot set up commissions of
inquiry like the one that generated the white paper. Added
the Minister, according to HRW, "even the President cannot
release this report."
CAMPBELL
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