EDEB8 - Ultimate Online Debating
About Us   Debate    Judge   Forum

That ransoms should not be paid to Boko Haram

12 points
0 points
ColeTrainColeTrain (PRO)

I affirm the resolution stating that ransoms should not be paid to Boko Haram.

Background: With Whom We Are Dealing

Boko Haram should not be taken lightly. The African equivalent of ISIS, Boko Haram is a highly effective and cruel terrorist organization. A report published by Amnesty International reveals, “Since 2013, Boko Haram has killed at least 6,800 people, mostly civilians.” [9] With such a deadly opponent, any concerns must weigh heavily.

C1) The United States already has a No-Ransom Policy.

The United States has a policy set in place which does not permit the paying of ransom to release hostages. Removing this policy in the country that could perhaps be the most help for abducted individuals, would take too much time and debate between policymakers to be pragmatic. Moreover, the general populace approves of the current system (70%). [4] If the policy in place is popular and working well enough, there is no need to move away from it.

C2) Ransom pay awards Boko Haram.

Endeavors to pay the ransom to terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram are inherently ineffective. When said terrorist group attacks an area conducts an abduction, they have leverage. They can manipulate and essentially force government parties to give them money in return for the release of their hostages. This rewards the terrorist group is rewarded for committing a crime. The US refuses to promote such activity. ““We, as a matter of policy, deny kidnappers the benefits of their criminal acts, and that includes ransoms or other concessions,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.” [7]

C3) Ransom does not ensure release.

Paying ransom often doesn’t assure the government party of the release of the hostages. Often, these hostages are killed before they are rescued, but the money is frequently paid prior. This results in a loss of money and the lives of the kidnapped. Boko Haram recently abducted over 200 school girls (219, specifically). [2] But the return is promising, even if ransom is paid. The Guardian explains that the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, “indicates that only the girls who havenot converted to Islam will be exchanged.” [3] It is also shown that Boko Haram converted to Islam [5] and “married-off.” [6] If these people may not be able to be released or simply refused to be released, the system is inherently flawed and incapable of ensuring success.

C4) Ransom results in cyclical kidnappings.

Though it’s a popular method to release abducted victims, it is ineffective. Instead of solving the problem, it results in more kidnappings. David Cohen, the undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence at the Treasury Department, explains this concept, “Ransom payments lead to future kidnappings, and future kidnappings lead to additional ransom payments. And it all builds the capacity of terrorist organizations to conduct attacks.” [1] The terrorist groups continue to receive money with no penalty, so we receive monetary detriment, with no real benefit, as often they are killed regardless.

C5) Ransom has monetary detriments.

The ramifications of paying ransom is from a monetary stance impractical. More often than not, the terrorist organization, in this case Boko Haram, charge outrageous costs for the release of their prisoners. These costs, once again, don’t ensure the safe return of the prisoners. Thus, we could pay thousands or even millions of dollars for nothing. Instead, another route can be taken, as was done with the school girls. TIME Magazine quotes Carney as saying, “What I can tell you is that we’re focused on working with the Nigerian government to locate and bring home those girls.” [8] This should be pursued.


Steps have been and are being taken in the right direction to protect citizen lives and ensure security, without costing millions of dollars which to support a fallible solution.


[1] http://tinyurl.com/qjysdj4

[2] http://tinyurl.com/me86lqd

[3] http://tinyurl.com/pq5o9ps

[4] http://tinyurl.com/mjn4ztr

[5] http://tinyurl.com/na9woft

[6] http://tinyurl.com/nv2bdaw

[7] http://tinyurl.com/kgeomt5

[8] http://tinyurl.com/nmbsubh

[9] http://tinyurl.com/qhzmcd2

(Note: I wrote this argument before the character limit was changed, so it's rather short.)

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-05-15 03:54:20
| Speak Round
BlackflagBlackflag (CON)
Thanks to Coletrain for challenging me to this debate. 

Boko Haram is a militarist group operating in Nigeria, supported by various sunni clergy living in the northern half of the country. Boko Haram was originally created with the goal of convincing Nigeria's northern states into adopting Sharia law, which is a code of law based on Islamic theology. At this they were extremely successful. Boko Haram  used hardline political intimidation to convince northern politicians to support sectarian state constitutions. Following their victories in the north, Boko Haram slowly evolved from being a small paramilitary group to a powerful militant society, dedicated towards bringing the  glory of Islam to the southern Christian states of  Nigeria. At this, they were less successful. While Boko Haram was already widely considered to be a "fringe" group, the organization lost many of its moderate members when it began waging low intensity warfare against government and civilian targets, although the new direction the group had taken gave way to new allies in the Maghreb and Al-Qaeda terrorist networks.  

Boko Haram, reminiscent of roaming warbands like the LRA, travel through the country setting up camps and raiding villages. Once they raid a village, they take the Christian children and to "Islamic" schools where they become educated by Muslim clerics to make a conversion to Sharia Islam. These children are often referred to as "The Students" by Boko Haram. Often, Boko Haram will place a self titled warlord to look after their conquered territory, since in an age of 5th generation warfare it would be impractical to leave a garrison to hold ground against better equipped and organized government troops. 

In order to pay for their supplies, weapons, and the bribes which they inevitably have to use to make it past government controlled territory, Boko Haram has adopted a practice of taking fit young men and women and selling them into slavery. Sometimes, they will even capture a group of high value targets, and sell them back to the government or use them to extort villagers for their lifestock without having to steal it. The practice of Boko Haram ransoming off high value targets is what we came to debate. More specifically, if people should pay a group like Boko Haram in a ransom transaction.

There are several arguments for why people should choose to pay ransoms to Boko Haram 
  • Human life is more valuable than monetary value, therefore one cannot put a "ridiculous" price, as my opponent claims, on another human
  • Paying ransoms creates an integrity system. If Boko Haram can make money selling important civilian figures back to the government, then they would have no gain in killing or harming civilians. This self motivated "integrity" will reduce the amount of devastation to the civilian population and Nigeria's infrastructure.
  • Having working relations between a government and a rebel group is a luxury we do not often see.  Even if these relations are resolving disputes such as ransoms. Having working dialogue, even in the regard of exchanging a hostage for money, is invaluable. Ease of cooperation in this regard would create compromises in the future.

The United States 
Boko Haram is not an organization based in the US, so the US has no obligation to pay ransoms. The Nigerian government, which promises to protect its population, is morally obligated to pay for the release of her civilians. Not only are they morally obligated, they are also driven to do so by practicality. Issues with infrastructure and corruption are rampant in Nigeria. Every time groups like Boko Haram kill off an important official in Nigeria's volatile infrastructure network, prosperity is given a setback. Prrotecting the population is a very important monetary investment which will pay off long into the future. 

Although the US and other Western nations are not obligated to help foreigners, they should do so anyways for multiple reasons. The western world is  willing to dish out billions of dollars in stamping out violence with more violence, but when given an opportunity to spend a couple million to stamp out violence through peaceful financial transactions, Western lawmakers become instantly critical. 

During the history of the Byzantine Emperor, many armies threatened the Christian world. The Byzantine Empire, vast in riches, payed money to not get into wars. During the period of this Byzantine policy, the prosperity of the empire flourished as more people were birthed and new advances were discovered. The warmongering armies at the borders, entirely reliant on taking things from others, soon died out or were assimilated into civilization.

The same thing can happen in Nigeria. By paying Boko Haram a percentage of Nigeria's GDP not to fight, Nigeria can use the other 99% of its GDP to grow and flourish. Over time, the people in the north will distance themselves from the radicalism and failed promises of Boko Haram, as they migrate towards a centuries old proven system of democracy and capitalism. Learning from history is imperative, and I feel that the opposing position is failing to take history into account.

Ransom pays rewards 
It can be tough to put our pride and ego aside and let our enemies have a small victory, but we should remember that we still come out as victorious in the long run. Reaping the rewards of compassion and cooperation outweigh the spoils of war, and that is a lesson groups like Boko Haram have been slow to learn. By not paying ransoms, we are ignoring the moral crux of the problem, and without morals that would make us worse than Boko Haram, who at least stand for something.

Ransoms do not ensure release
Historically, ransoms usually have ensured release. Especially when a group wants to engage in more than one ransom. Groups like Boko Haram wouldn't stop at one ransom, so why would they ruin their chances at future business with the Nigerian government by going back on their word? Boko Haram has been paid ransoms before and has followed through on their word. Not out of honor, but because they have more to lose in the future if they do not follow through. This artificial integrity policy is something every government in a similar situation as Nigeria should adopt.

The opposing position also brings up the issue of cyclical kidnappings. I suppose cyclical kidnappings are worse than cyclical mass murder? Without the promise of ransom money we would see more dead bodies lining the streets, and more sex slaves being shipped overseas. 

Paying Ransoms has no monetary benefit 
The opposing position needs to see this from a different perspective. When running a corporation, a company will often run into complications, such as having to recall a product that is defective. While recalling the product can lose the corporation millions, they have the potential to lose 10's of millions if they are sued. Therefore the act of recalling the product becomes a necessity. It isn't like anyone is going to get a kick out of wasting millions of dollars, but if the millions of dollars go towards preventing an even greater loss of money, could we really even consider the money spent a "waste" to begin with?

Boko Haram will rarely kidnap anyone of non-importance. The one exception is the 2014 Chibok Kidnapping, where they were justified in asking for 3 million dollars due to the international attention the media had given the kidnapping. Seldom will you see a scenario like the Chibok kidnapping repeat itself. What usually happens is an important village elder or government official is isolated and kidnapped, and then sold back to the government for a couple 10,000 US dollars. This has to be taken into consideration. When you remove an important member of society, the country as a whole takes a hit. Often it is better to pay the ransom just to avoid the financial burden of having to replace the office and deal with the expenses...

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-05-17 16:47:27
| Speak Round
ColeTrainColeTrain (PRO)
Boko Haram
I agree with my opponent's definition of Boko Haram, with reservations to their activities. My opponent seems to downplay the murders and kidnappings as less than they actually are. I totally agree that Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization. This being said, as my opponent has mentioned throughout his round, we must take history into account. Islamic extremism has become a big problem. The Clarion Project explains it as the primary national security and human rights concern of the world today. [1] With this large threat, we need to realize that this danger is legitimate. PBS explains a detailed history of terrorism, noting multiple events of concern. The most recent of which is the 9/11 attacks in the United States. [2] The history of Islamic extremism has been deadly and unwarranted; they've killed thousands of people simply because they do not believe the same way. This is immoral and very harmful. If we have these individuals killing so many people, we cannot morally assist or fund them. I will prove how it will NOT dissuade them from more kidnappings, but rather persuade the increase of this despised act.

"Human life is more valuable than monetary value, therefore one cannot put a "ridiculous" price, as my opponent claims, on another human"
1. The "price" funds and facilitates an increase in kidnapping and murders. This cycle yields no solution.
2. Human life is valued by search and rescue methods rather than ransom pay. [3] If this can be done, it will have a higher success rate, and ultimately cost less per individual.
3. The ransom and price is rarely clear-cut and achievable. For example, the terrorist group often does not explain where the negotiation and exchange will take place. [4]

"Paying ransoms creates an integrity system. If Boko Haram can make money selling important civilian figures back to the government, then they would have no gain in killing or harming civilians. This self motivated "integrity" will reduce the amount of devastation to the civilian population and Nigeria's infrastructure."
1. As explained earlier, and also noted by my opponent, Boko Haram is a terrorist group. Islamic extremism does not accept opposing views. The penalty for opposing their beliefs is death or torture. An integrity system cannot be formed with an organization that "has adopted a practice of taking fit young men and women and selling them into slavery." My opponent mentioned this, which is imperative to realize the contradicting nature.
2. An organization cannot be both striving for an integrity system and use slaves of "fit men" and "women." They will either use only high-profile individuals or brutality. In this case, they have chosen brutality. This does not reduce human suffering or assist civilian population.
3. Women cannot be high-profile. The kidnapping of women only proves that Boko Haram is brutal and is a terrorist organization similar to ISIS and al Qaeda. In Nigeria, women don't  yet have the rights to be of high importance. [5]

"Having working relations between a government and a rebel group is a luxury we do not often see. Even if these relations are resolving disputes such as ransoms. Having working dialogue, even in the regard of exchanging a hostage for money, is invaluable. Ease of cooperation in this regard would create compromises in the future."
1. Boko Haram is more than a rebel group. It is a brutal terrorist organization, potentially worse than groups in Afghanistan. [6]
2. As evidenced by the Chibok kidnapping, the intents do not lie in solely high-profile figures. This also shows the brutality and mercilessness of the terrorist group. A relationship is NOT what the group intends to achieve, and it would facilitate more harm.
4. The international community is essentially at war with terror groups such as ISIS. According to Boko Haram's leader, the organization has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. [7] Cooperation cannot be achieved if two separate terror groups are joined together in opposition to the US and other countries.

We cannot pay ransoms to a group that will not promise the return of victims, is brutal, and is joined with other terrorist groups to which morality is severely lacking.

The United States
My opponent instantaneously concedes the fact that we should not pay ransoms. The US is NOT obligated to do pay ransoms, but is often called upon as a rich and diverse society to assist countries in need of help. Because of its popularity in these scenarios, I mentioned it. Instead of the ransom my opponent asserts is plausible, I advocate for alternative methods that will be even more cost-efficient in the long run, and will deter further kidnappings from Boko Haram. I mentioned this aggressive search-and-rescue method earlier.

Because he assumes the US is morally and pragmatically obligated to take action, I will relatively agree. The US should be obligated to take action, but not pay ransoms. The US economy should not be detrimented so greatly ($120 million per 8 years) [8] without a high chance of success. Alternatively, a search-and-rescue method would be far more effective and would do more to guarantee the freedom of abduction victims. CNN agrees, "successful rescue efforts do happen." [9] While these methods consistently stay effective, ransom pay is becoming more difficult for society to compensate. Moreover, the same Newsweek article documents, "What’s worse, the size of the average ransom payment is increasing... average ransom payment per hostage [is] $4.5 million." [8] Search-and-rescue, in the long run, could be more cost efficient because it allows the native country to deal with the problems themselves, in a more safe, more likely, manner which goes towards the deterrence of such despicable acts in the future.

My opponent asserts that Nigeria could simply use 1% of its GDP to pay ransoms and free hostages. Yet, given the average "price" of freeing these individuals, simply the Chibok incident costs much more than Nigeria can sufficiently handle. Police believe 276 girls were abducted. [10] We will use this statistic in this case. $4.5 million for each girl equates to nearly $1.25 billion dollars that Nigeria must dish out. This is all money that could be used towards education and infrastructure to assist the economy rather than no guarantee of release. But more importantly, this could be used for search-and-rescue methods. Funding themselves, along with assistance from the US among the AU and other international help could alleviate suffering from kidnapping victims. ($3 million was asked, this was just a monetary estimate of a potential similar occurrence).

Ransoms Don't Ensure Release
If you believe my opponent's unwarranted claim, backed by no evidence (as were all his points), I will refute. Ransoms don't ensure release. [11]  As I have explained, there is often failure to return hostages even after or before ransom is paid. Moreover, the likelihood that Nigeria can pay the outrageous price for hostage return is very slim. Also, I've shown that Boko Haram is not seeking to attain a healthy relationship with anyone; except ISIS.

Ransoms Have No Monetary Benefits
I'm not valuing economy over humanity, I'm simply showing the pragmatic effect of paying ransoms. We should use an alternative method to save both hostages and economies. Furthermore, the scenario my opponent mentioned is not relevant. Corporations do not directly affect life and death or slavery and freedom. With Boko Haram, they don't just kidnap for monetary gain, it is radical Islam and slave trading. [11] This is why the Chibok is not as seldom as my opponent would have you believe.

[1] http://tinyurl.com/ocmlhe4
[2] http://tinyurl.com/37kwj
[3] http://tinyurl.com/n458ydo
[4] http://tinyurl.com/pjg248x
[5] http://tinyurl.com/lx8d68m
[6] http://tinyurl.com/kmsbyuu
[7] http://tinyurl.com/kvcgnmz
[8] http://tinyurl.com/m5584ak
[9] http://tinyurl.com/pdkv9pr

Return To Top | Posted:
2015-05-18 07:21:35
| Speak Round

View As PDF

Enjoyed this debate? Please share it!

You need to be logged in to be able to comment
Ah okay. Thanks :)
Posted 2015-08-11 10:25:25
When it for that, it means the site has determined that your character length has been exceeded. This often happens if you are within 50 or so of your limit, although usually it is spot on.
If there's an issue, all admin and he will normally add your extra bits on after the fact.

Also, to save space, you can do what most of us do, and embed the links into your argument by using the appropriate button from the format menu at the top. It's the one that looks like a piece of chain... Link- get it? (I just got that now.)
Posted 2015-05-23 20:20:35
I made a mistake. The first source labeled [11] is supposed to be [10], and wasn't shown at the bottom for some reason. The link is as follows: http://tinyurl.com/leahwoo
The second source labeled [11] was supposed to be [11], but wasn't shown for some reason. The link is as follows:

My apologies. I don not know why it replaced my last two sources with ellipses.
Posted 2015-05-18 07:31:22
@nzlockie, thanks so much! You've been a great person to "introduce" me to edeb8. Thanks for the help.

@admin, Lol. Maybe we can debate sometime as well. I need to test my skill against this "Larz is the best mod" I've been hearing so much about ;)
Posted 2015-05-15 03:46:51
I would too but I give @Stag first dibs on the topic. He needs to get off the forums and do a debate.
Posted 2015-05-14 16:00:15
While I'm at it, one other common mistake is that on Edeb8, just like in a real debate, the first round is for arguing or presenting your case - not acceptance like on DDO. Acceptance is a given since the rules have already been stated by whoever accepts.

Good luck, I hope someone accepts this! I would but I'm travelling at the moment.
Posted 2015-05-14 15:53:00
Hey nice work!
Just so you know, you've selected the options that no images are allowed - totally fine, just not sure if you meant to do that.
On Edeb8 we don't break judgements up, although conduct definately is considered by most judges. One nice setting that I personally always do, is to tick the box that says a forfeit equals an instant loss. It's called, "Forfeiting rounds means forfeiting the debate" or something like that.

This will ensure that your opponent posts every round or automatically loses. I like that button.

Posted 2015-05-14 15:49:36
@Stag I was told you might be interested in this debate, so I guess I will indirectly challenge you. However, the debate is left open in case someone else wishes to accept. :)
Posted 2015-05-14 14:42:16
The judging period on this debate is over

Previous Judgments

2015-05-24 07:31:04
RXR.Judge: RXR.
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
0 comments on this judgement
2015-05-24 12:02:29
nzlockieJudge: nzlockie    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
PRO wins for one major reason, and that is the forfeit of CON. This forfeit leaves his last points uncontested which means they carry more weight.

On the points themselves, the single point that would award PRO the win from THIS judge, was the sourced evidence that paying ransoms does not ensure the return of hostages. CON contested this and personally I'd tend to agree with his point that if the convention was that ransoms were paid, then it's reasonable to assume that the whole process would become more safe. HOWEVER, his assertion of this point was not as well sourced as PRO's assertion to the contrary, so therefore PRO wins that point. Narrowly.

Both sides agreed that Boko Haram was in the wrong - there were several side points here about the degree of wrongness, but ultimately these were not relevant to the debate, if one buys CON's contention that human life is worth a little pride swallowing.
PRO's contention that ransom money could be better spent on search and recovery was interesting. CON really didn't contest this point much, which I think was a mistake. With no contention it holds.
CON's contention that human life is worth more than money was also interesting. PRO didn't attack that very hard either. Human life is most definitely assigned a monetary value, so it should have been easy to at least cancel this point out.

Ultimately this debate came down to this. Will paying ransoms work to save lives?
Both sides argued their perspective on this, but PRO's points were louder and better sourced.

Had this debate finished, this judgement could well have gone the other way.

Firstly, this was a very good debate by both sides.
Both arguments were very clear and easy to read - except PRO, you might need to reread your passages before posting. (In C3 of Round one, you say the return is promising even if the ransom is paid!)

PRO: Your first round was strong. I liked all of your points and the way they were laid out.
A minor point with your sources, it will work better if you use an active link for these. I found it a pain to copy and paste the url, just to check the source.
Another minor point with the formatting - use the colours and the bolding to make your hard hitting sentences pop and stick in my memory. Pictures may have also helped appeal to my emotional side as well.
One last minor point - it APPEARED in your second round, that you were assuming this debate was USA-centric. That's a mistake that will cost you on an international debate site. There was nothing in the resolution or your first round that specified that this was applying to the USA. CON picked this up in his first round.

I think the biggest area for you to work on is your rebuttal. Question the obvious CON assertions. Are they really obvious? Why should human lives be considered priceless when society puts a price on them every day?

Choose your words very carefully. You wrote, "We cannot pay ransoms to a group that will not promise the return of victims, is brutal, and is joined with other terrorist groups to which morality is severely lacking." - this sentence is demonstrably false, as we totally CAN do this action. What you really mean is we SHOULD not do this.
If "should" is not strong enough, use a qualifier - "We can not, in good conscience, pay ransoms..."
You see politicians do this all the time, and there's a reason.
There were a few different instances of this.

On balance, this was a strong argument from you. It felt to me like you were right on the border, (without going over) of overplaying the righteous anger at the horrible terrorists angle, but it ultimately worked for you.
Well done!

CON: Disappointing to see another forfeit, but your argument was pretty solid in my view. I seriously considered awarding you the win despite the forfeit so that's good.
To win this, you needed to be a little colder and less passionate than PRO - and you did that perfectly.

As already noted, I think you were lucky not to get called on a couple of points, namely that Human life is worth saving at any financial cost, but also that financial loss is the primary negative here.
To be honest though, as I read that, I was wondering if you were setting a trap. Those points would have been quite easy to defend had you been called on them, and may have given them more weight, helping your cause. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see if that was the case.

I want to be very clear that sources are secondary to a well reasoned argument, but in this case, your comparative lack of sources DID count against you. In an instance where you are both asserting opposing facts, the better sourced side will win out. Your whole defence fails if PRO convinces me that paying ransoms does not assure the safety of the hostages.
You needed to attack that hard.

The final thing was also your rebuttal. It was pretty solid, but I think you could have attacked the assertion that the USA doesn't pay ransoms a bit more. It would be easy to show that this statement is a little misleading. That would throw doubt on PRO's case, as it shows that in some circumstances, negotiations are recognised as working.
Anything that makes a black and white assertion look grey is a good thing.

Your rounds in this debate were some of the most readable I've seen from you. You didn't allow yourself to get sidetracked and you remained pretty controlled throughout. Nice work.

2 users rated this judgement as constructive
1 comment on this judgement
Thank you for the feedback! :)
Posted 2015-11-06 12:21:06
2015-05-25 07:21:37
lannan13Judge: lannan13    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
0 comments on this judgement
2015-05-25 18:56:25
RagnarJudge: Ragnar
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
Con choose to not defend his arguments, instead opting to drop out of the debate.
0 comments on this judgement
2015-05-25 21:45:52
TejreticsJudge: Tejretics
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
I award ColeTrain a 1-point victory to ensure the conduct point, due to the Neg's forfeiture of two rounds.
0 comments on this judgement
2015-05-26 00:33:55
ButterCatxJudge: ButterCatx    TOP JUDGE
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
2015-05-26 04:07:52
Beekeeper12Judge: Beekeeper12
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
The Stag forfeited and that is against the rules. Stag could only come up with one argument so clearly cole deserves the win.
0 comments on this judgement
2015-05-29 23:49:21
dsjpk5Judge: dsjpk5
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
2015-06-07 02:19:07
HelloJudge: Hello
Win awarded to: ColeTrain
ColeTrain wins due to Stags forfeit.
0 comments on this judgement

Rules of the debate

  • Text debate
  • Individual debate
  • 3 rounds
  • 8000 characters per round
  • No reply speeches
  • No cross-examination
  • Community Judging Standard (notes)
  • Forfeiting rounds does not mean forfeiting the debate
  • No images
  • HTML formatting allowed
  • Rated debate
  • Time to post: 3 days
  • Time to vote: 2 weeks
  • Time to prepare: 3 hours
Rules are as follows:
No trolling
Forfeits result in a loss of conduct (if that applies, I have never used edeb8)
Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere (no vulgarity)

Thank you, and good luck to whomever accepts!