CHIEF Justice of Kenya, Willy Mutunga, on Monday, urged the Nigerian government to strike a balance between national security and human rights in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency.
While observing that the search for balance between security and rights was usually a difficult one, even in developed democracies, he said, however, that it was finding that balance that stabilised societies.
Justice Mutunga, who was at the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday, noted that the war against terror must follow due process of the law and rules of engagement as it was being “waged against our motherland. Our commitment is that our motherland must survive.
“These strategies must conform to the principles of rule of law so as to avoid infringing on the rights of innocent citizens. To do otherwise is to put the citizens in a very difficult situation of double suffering.”
Mutunga, who is also the president of the Supreme Court of Kenya, said: “As painful and unpopular as this statement may sound, terrorists, rapists, murderers, drug traffickers have their rights under our constitution.
“Terrorists are not our teachers, so the question is why do they deserve our sympathy? But we take high moral grounds of morality. People who don’t deserve sympathy are taken through a humane process of administration of justice.
“But the war against terrorism must be fought in a way that said citizens must be able to tell the difference between state actions and those of terrorists.
“To effectively respond to terrorism threats, it is also critical that we continue building and enhancing the capacity of our security and criminal justice systems,” Mutunga said and charged the NHRC to be independent and not to cover up cases of human rights abuses, but to also look holistically into the issue of corruption, human trafficking, pirates and terrorist because they are the same.
Responding, the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Professor Ben Angwe, reiterated the commitment of the Federal Government to end the Boko Haram insurgency within a reasonable timeframe.
Angwe disclosed that Nigeria had taken favourable steps in ensuring the protection of the rights of citizens and solicited the support of the Kenyan government in the fight against corruption and terrorism.
Meanwhile, the NHRC has called on the Federal Government to review the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to address some noticeable gray areas in the programme.
Executive Secretary of the commission made the call on Monday, at a conference shortly after playing host to the visiting Kenyan Chief Justice, Mutungu, at the headquarters of the commission.
Angwe, who was irked by what he described as indiscriminate policy of the scheme against civil servants said he was going to invite the chairman of NHIS to the commission for explanations as to why beneficiaries of the scheme were having difficulties in accessing medical services.
He noted that contrary to the intention of the Federal Government for citizens to have access to medical facilities, the current discriminatory nature of the scheme had made it difficult for beneficiaries, whose monies had already been deducted from their salaries, by exempting them from drugs and certain treatments.