Government officials in Nigeria are discussing a bill that would make ransom payments to kidnappers illegal as the country grapples with mass kidnappings.
The most recent kidnapping saw 120 students taken from a Baptist school, with more than 80 of those students still in captivity. International Christian Concern, a persecution watchdog, says that over 1,000 students have been kidnapped in 2021.
"The Nigerian national government is considering legislation that would criminalize paying ransoms for the return of abducted schoolchildren," ICC reports. "The bill, if passed, would amend the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011 by making paying ransoms a felony punishable by a minimum sentence of 15 years in prison."
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Lawmakers say that paying ransoms only serves to further encourage more kidnappings. Since 2014 mass kidnappings have become a common occurrence. While the Nigerian government condemns the practice, it is believed that they also commonly pay ransoms.
"Critics of the proposed legislation argue that it misses the point—the fundamental problem at play is lack of effective security measures and law enforcement, not desperate parents trying to get their children back, they argue," ICC reports.