The trials, which are being conducted by four judges, began on Monday at a civilian court set up at a military base and detention centre at Kanji in Niger state. The trials are being held behind closed doors with the media and public excluded.
Under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing, unless proceedings need exceptionally to be held in camera. Any restrictions on the public nature of a trial, including for the protection of national security, must be both necessary and proportionate, as assessed on a case-by-case basis.
It is essential that Boko Haram insurgents are prosecuted and, if found guilty, held to account for killings and abuses they may have perpetrated, and that victims are able to receive justice. However, the lack of transparency regarding these trials is worrying, and we note that Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is not allowed to attend and monitor proceedings.