The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said that it will hold Russia accountable for any war crime atrocity in Niger Republic if the Wagner Group, a private military contractor, violates human rights in the wake of the military coup.
Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, EOCWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, said this on Friday when he appeared as a special guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme. He also disclosed that another West African nation had made a separate arrangement with the security outfit.
Musah said that the bloc would not tolerate any human rights violations by the private military contractor.
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The Wagner Group, apparently, is in Mali today. The Malian government says this is an agreement between them and the Russian Federation.
“We want to take them by their word, which means any sort of action that infringes on human rights or yeah, or devastation in our region by these private military contractors, we are going to hold the other countries of our region responsible for that,” Musah said.
Musah also pointed out that private military companies have a history of human rights abuses in Africa.
“Private military companies were involved in Sierra Leone. They were involved in Liberia during those civil wars, long ago. And even recently, in the global conflict, there has been the use of private military companies,” he said.
“The Americans are using them in Iraq; in Afghanistan, they use them, and others. What we are seeing is that these groups are not acceptable in Africa, even though they are there, and we are going to hold their countries of origin responsible for any violations.”
The ECOWAS commissioner brought attention to the present engagement of Western military forces in Niger, notably by France and the European Union (EU). Additionally, the commissioner underscored the increased participation of countries from the Middle East, including Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, alongside the presence of Russia and China within the region.
“What we are saying is that we are not going to allow West Africa to be an arena of proxy wars again. And that is our attitude towards Wagner. It is not our option,” he said.
“We do not want private military companies interfering in the conflict environment in the region because we know the consequences of their action.”