We were all really excited when we heard that Boko Haram released 82 Chibok girls last week. But in the excitement of this feat, has the government failed to protect the Chibok girls privacy?
The wonderful news brought tears of joy to eyes of families who had patiently waited three years for the return of their daughters and sisters and hope to Nigerians for more good news as such.
Despite other ugly economic realities, Nigerians did not hold back their gratitude to the government for achieving such a remarkable feat. At least, not until Monday when the government released the names of the 82 Chibok girls to news organizations who went further to make them public.
According to Mausi Segun, Senior Researcher at the Human Rights Watch, this singular act by the authorities ‘marred’ the celebrations. She described it as a ‘dismal failure to protect the traumatized girls’ privacy.
This, HRW said, exposes the girls to unnecessary scrutiny and possible stigma, and violates the basic rights of survivors of the type of violence and abuse by Boko Haram to anonymity.
Also, the legal status of the girls’ freedom is still quite shady. The 21 Chibok girls released in October last year are still under the custody of the government and parents reportedly have very restricted access to their daughters.
The HRW asked the government to make it clear if they are holding the girls in preventive detention or as criminal suspects.