It emerged on Tuesday that 11 children under the age of six, including four babies, are among 149 people who have died this year following their detention in horrendous conditions in Giwa barracks detention centre in Maiduguri, Borno state.
Amnesty International revealed this in a report titled: ‘If you see it, you will cry: Life and death in Giwa barracks’
Evidence gathered through interviews with former detainees and eyewitnesses, supported by video and photos, shows many detainees may have died from disease, hunger, dehydration, and gunshots wounds.
Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for Africa said:
“The discovery that babies and young children have died in appalling conditions in military detention is both harrowing and horrifying. We have repeatedly sounded the alarm over the high death rate of detainees in Giwa barracks but these findings show that, for both adults and children, it remains a place of death.
“There can be no excuses and no delay. The detention facilities in Giwa barracks must be immediately closed and all detainees released or transferred to civilian authorities. The government must urgently introduce systems to ensure the safety and well-being of children released from detention.”
Amnesty International believes that around 1,200 people are currently detained at Giwa barracks in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Many were arbitrarily rounded up during mass arrests, often with no evidence against them.
The report revealed that once inside the barracks, they are incarcerated without access to the outside world or trial. At least 120 of those detained are children.