Tuesday, 16 September 2014


Last week (9/11), the world remembered again the date it stood still as an extremist group hijacked four airlines and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. For the United States, it was the history of “the day when the foundation of their biggest buildings were shaken”- but not the very heart of the people. For the rest of the world, it was the history of the date when International human rights took on a new shape and men from different creeds of the earth together with one voice said “NO” to the scourge of terrorism and its baggage. 
The 9/11 attacks more than being a shocker was also an eye opener to the world that terrorism is taking on a new shape and the strategies for fighting it ought to be fine-tuned. It brought to bare questions relating to the protection of people’s rights in the face of terrorism, and also exposed the inadequacies of the United Nations’ Charter particularly the fact that it is unrealistic to subject the provision which allows “the use of armed forces in the common interest” to an objective test.
In the United States, the situation of detainees in the U.S. Military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba became of immense concern. According to Amnesty International, “a few Guantanamo detainees face trial under a military commission system that does not meet international fair trial standards”. In China, a source revealed that a number of extremists were executed for crimes ranging from setting up a terrorist outfit and illegally making explosives to attacking police officers and killing government officials. Until the abduction of some girls in Chibok, Nigeria, there were series of allegations of abuse of human rights by foreign government against Nigeria and its treatment of Boko Haram insurgence; In the year Two Thousand and Twelve, the Nigeria Armed Force was alleged to have opened attack on residents of communities where Boko Haram members operated most, and allegedly held many in detention without charge or trial.
The fight against terrorism has also become a cloak under which stronger countries and their allies invade and topple “undemocratic” governments in other sovereign Nations. A major example is the U.S. led invasion of Iraq which was allegedly tainted with a lot of human rights abuses. Describing the aftermath of the invasion, Kofi Annan (former U.N’s Secretary General) recorded in his memoir that: in the course of the decade following the invasion an estimated 115,000 Iraqi civilians died in the ensuing anarchy and civil war; more than 10,000 coalition soldiers were killed or wounded; and some 4 million people were made refugees or were internally displaced. (See Pg. 318 “Interventions”).
Amidst all these concerns, have we exhaustively answered the questions that demand answers? Who is a terrorist? What kind of attack qualifies as “terrorism”? What about the question of “motive” and “intention”, do they count in adjudging a person as a terrorist? And the last question I will turn to is that of whether or not terrorists have an entitlement to rights which are due to other humans?
9/11 attacks have happened, what we make of it is what matters. For those who hold so fervently to their beliefs and therefore feel that they must use every means to make others live as they do, 9/11 may to them be a heroic display of some extremists, but for Zak Ebrahim; who happens to be the son of a terrorist, “the son does not have to follow the ways of his father because he is not his father”, for the rest of the world, the message of peace must be preached, and the road to it is personal decision and deliberate campaign rooted in diplomacy and non violence.

* Eyitayo Ogunyemi is an Associate at FALANA & FALANA'S CHAMBERS. He is the president of D'Paralegal Academy- A consultancy institution which also teaches elementary principles of law to the public. He is the initiator of "The People's Parliament"- a forum committed to imparting the society with the knowledge of their constitutional rights and duties.

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