Children and babies are dying in Nigerian military detention, where they're buried in mass graves

Photo: Nigerian Army solders. Amnesty.org.

Amnesty International says at least 149 detainees have died "in horrendous conditions" at a military detention site in northeastern Nigeria this year. Among them were 11 children under the age of 6 years old, and four babies who are said to have died of untreated measles.

Amnesty called the site "a place of death," and said it should be closed.

Soldiers illegally hold suspected Islamic extremists and others at the Giwa Barracks, which has become to Nigeria what Abu Ghraib was in Iraq: a terrorizing symbol of incomprehensible suffering, horror, and pain.

The dead are buried in unmarked mass graves, says Amnesty in Wednesday's report release. Adults and minors who end up at detained at Giwa Barracks may have died from disease, hunger, dehydration, or gunshot wounds.

The annual Nigeria human rights report prepared by the London-based nonprofit is based on interviews with witnesses, and video and photographic evidence.

The facility is located in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, and Amnesty wants the government of Nigeria to shut it down.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has promised but failed to address alleged gross human rights abuses by Army soldiers there.

"The discovery that babies and young children have died in appalling conditions in military detention is both harrowing and horrifying," said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty's research and advocacy director for Africa.

"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."

Read the Amnesty Report: Nigeria 2015/2016. More at BBC News.

The history of abuses at Maiduguri goes back many years.

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