[JURIST] The Nigerian Socio-Economic and Rights Accountability Project [advocacy website] announced Sunday that it has filed a petition with the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] urging it to investigate school attacks resulting in the deaths of teachers and students in northeast Nigeria as crimes against humanity. The petition came a week after Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder] allegedly attacked an agricultural college [AP report], killing 43 students while they slept and setting fire to classrooms. President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile] declared a state of emergency in May, stating that extremists took control of several towns. Amnesty International on Friday urged [press release] Nigeria's government to provide better protection for schools after estimating that scores of pupils and 70 teachers have been killed and that 50 schools have been damaged and more than 60 had to close.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is a sin," has been fighting to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state and has warned Christians in the mostly Muslim northern regions to leave the area. In August the ICC stated that it had reason to believe [JURIST report] that crimes against humanity were committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram. In January of last year UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] urged Nigerian leaders from all sectors of society to make a concerted effort to stop the sectarian violence [JURIST report]. The call came following Christmas day bombings that were internationally condemned, including being labeled as "senseless violence" by the White House and acts of "blind hatred" by the Vatican. Additionally, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] has previously expressed concern [JURIST report] over acts of ethnic violence by Boko Haram. Specifically, the Office described the group's bombing of a UN building in Nigeria killing 18 people in August 2011 as "cowardly."