In its resolve and commitment to improve compliance with International Human Rights Law and the Law of Armed Conflict, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 23 September 2019, commenced a 5-day Workshop on Human Rights and the Legal Aspects of Air Targeting at the NAF Officers’ Mess, Kado, Abuja. The Workshop, which is being held in conjunction with the Defence Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), is to further upgrade participants’ knowledge on the rules and processes of target selection and prioritization as well as matching appropriate response, taking cognizance of command responsibilities and operational requirements. They are also expected to be further enlightened on how to more effectively apply the law against torture and gender violence.

Speaking while declaring the Workshop open, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Chief of Administration Headquarters NAF, Air Vice Marshal Kingsley Lar, emphasized that such Workshops on the Law of Armed Conflict and other legal issues were of critical importance to NAF operations. He disclosed that the training was being held pursuant to the resolutions of the 2019 Edition of the NAF Legal Officers’ Retreat which highlighted the need to continually sensitize NAF personnel directly involved in ongoing operations, on compliance with International Human Rights Law and the Law of Armed Conflict.

While commending the leadership of the DIILS and Government of the United States of America (USA), Air Marshal Abubakar noted that the Workshop was an undeniable proof of the fact that the USA is a dependable development partner of Nigeria. Additionally, the CAS pointed out that a number of NAF officers had benefited from training opportunities offered by the DIILS. According to him, the latest of such trainings was the course on Legal Aspects of Defence Support of Civil Authority conducted between 17 July and 8 August 2019.

In his remarks, the representative of the DIILS, Mr Garrett Vanpelt, thanked the NAF for the opportunity to provide professional legal education on International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights to selected participants from the NAF. He said the Workshop, which is the first of its kind, would afford the NAF the opportunity to train enough personnel to effectively carry out their constitutional roles in line with international best practices.

On the first day of the Workshop, papers on “Observing and Respecting Human Rights and Civilian Authority”; “African Charter on Human and People’s Rights”; “Right Against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment” and “Gender Violence and Human Trafficking in International Law”, were presented by resource persons drawn from the US Military. The DIILS is a US Defense Department organization that plans and executes professional legal education and international engagement focused on human rights, International Humanitarian Law and the Law of Armed Conflict.

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