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Nigeria: Police must release #ArewaMeToo activist Maryam Awaisu immediately and unconditionally

    February 19, 2019

    Responding to today’s arrest of one of the leaders of the #ArewaMeToo movement, Maryam Aiwasu, who is pursuing justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho Director Amnesty International said:

    “Authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Aiwasu who has done nothing more than speaking up for women’s rights. Her arrest appears to be an attempt to intimidate and harass both her and other women supporting #ArewaMeToo – a movement seeking justice for victims of sexual violence in Nigeria.

    “While arresting Maryam, the police attempted to gain access to her laptop and mobile phone by force; this is clearly an effort to access the sensitive evidence she and other human rights defenders have been gathering to seek justice for victims of sexual violence.

    “Maryam and the other brave human rights defenders working with the #ArewaMeToo movement must not be silenced or punished for the vital work they do. For too long, Nigeria’s women have been facing various kinds of sexual violence that seldom receives proper attention from the country’s law enforcement agencies. It is unacceptable that women working on behalf of these victims are subjected to such arrest and intimidation, and we fear that these actions may prevent victims of sexual violence from pursuing justice.”

    Background

    Maryam Awaisu was arrested today in her office in Kaduna by a convoy of officers from the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

    Our report on SARS here.