Anglophone crisis, corruption: the chilling report of Human Rights Watch on Cameroon
Anglophone crisis, corruption: the chilling report of Human Rights Watch on Cameroon
The 2021 report of the international non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch exposes Cameroon on fairly sensitive subjects.
Homosexuality, Anglophone crisis, repression of the opposition, everything is there.
The Anglophone crisis
According to field studies and research carried out in the documentation freely available by Human Rights Watch, at least 4,000 civilians were also killed both by government forces and by armed separatist fighters since late 2016 in the North West and South West regions, with separatists demanding independence for the country’s minority English-speaking regions.
Abuses by government
forces Security forces have responded with force to attacks by separatists, often targeting civilians across English-speaking regions.
On January 10, army soldiers killed at least nine civilians, including a woman and a child, in the village of Mautu, in the South West region. The soldiers involved also looted dozens of homes and threatened residents.
On 8 June, in the village of Gom, in the North-West region, two soldiers broke into the home of a fon (local traditional authority figure) and harassed the eight people present, including a 72-year-old man. years since they were beaten. They also shot and killed Nwang Lydia, a 60-year-old woman, who had been unable to provide information about a separatist fighter.
On June 9, soldiers from the regular army and the elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) killed a 58-year-old man and raped a 53-year-old woman during a security operation carried out in and around from the village of Mbuluf, in the North-West region. They also broke into at least 33 shops and houses, which they damaged and looted, including the residence of the fon of the village of Ndzeen.
On October 14, a gendarme shot and killed Caroluise Enondiale, a four-year-old girl, on her way to school in Buea, in the South West region. An angry mob reacted by lynching the gendarme to death.
On November 10, an improvised explosive device was thrown on the roof of the amphitheater of the University of Buea, in the South West region, injuring at least 11 students. At the time of writing, the attack had not been claimed, but authorities held separatist fighters responsible.
Abuses Perpetrated by Armed Separatists
Separatist fighters continued to kill, torture, attack and abduct civilians. They also continued their attacks targeting the education system. According to the United Nations, 700,000 students were out of school in March 2021 due to the crisis.
On January 9, individuals suspected of being separatist fighters killed the principal of a high school in Eyumojock, in the South West region, and injured the principal of another high school in Tinto, also in the South region. -Where is. On January 12, separatist fighters shot and wounded a teacher at a public school in Bamenda, in the North West region.
On February 13, separatist fighters killed three tribal leaders in the village of Essoh Attah, in the South West region. On February 27, armed separatists kidnapped a doctor in Bali, in the North West region, and threatened to kill him, before releasing him the same day after paying a ransom.
On June 6, separatist fighters attacked a religious center in Mamfe, South West region, killing a 12-year-old boy and injuring a 16-year-old. On July 1, separatist fighters killed Fuh Max Dang, a physics teacher at the government bilingual high school in Kumba, in the South West region. On August 29, armed separatists abducted Julius Agbortoko, a Catholic priest from the diocese of Mamfe, in the South West region, and demanded a ransom of 20 million CFA (US$34,336) for his release.
Obstacles to humanitarian access and abuses against aid workers
Humanitarian access is severely restricted and aid workers have been the victims of attacks by both government forces and armed separatist groups. In December 2020, Cameroonian authorities suspended all Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) activities in the North West region, accusing the organization of being too close to Anglophone separatists. This decision forced MSF to withdraw from the area, depriving tens of thousands of people of access to vital healthcare.
Separatist fighters have also impeded the access of humanitarian agencies to areas under their control. On 4 February, a nurse working for an international non-governmental organization (NGO) was shot and wounded when her ambulance was caught in the crossfire during an attack by separatists in the village of Mbalangi, in the Southwest region. On June 25, fighters from the separatist armed group Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) stopped a humanitarian vehicle in Guzang, North West region, abducted the four employees, one of whom was passed beaten, and released them the same day.
Attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram in the Far North
In the first half of 2021, attacks and raids by the Islamist armed group Boko Haram intensified in the Far North region, killing at least 80 civilians. On January 8, a suicide bombing by Boko Haram killed at least 14 civilians, including 8 children, and injured three other civilians, including two children. The alleged death in May of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, during a clash in Nigeria with a breakaway faction called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), contributed to consolidate the power of ISWAP and increased the level of insecurity in Cameroon’s Far North region.
Repressive measures against political opposition and dissidents
The government limited the ability of political opponents to operate freely. Authorities have banned a demonstration organized by the country’s main opposition party, the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC), scheduled for July 25 in Yaoundé, the capital, for “risk of spreading Covid-19 and threatening of disturbing public order”. On the same day, a demonstration organized by supporters of the ruling party took place in Bertoua, in the Est region.
On August 9, gendarmes in Douala arbitrarily arrested Rebecca Enonchong, a leading technology businesswoman, human rights defender and outspoken critic of President Paul Biya. She was held in custody for “contempt of court” until August 13, when she was released and all charges against her were dropped.
At least 124 opposition party members and supporters arrested in September 2020 during peaceful protests remained in detention on politically motivated charges, including Olivier Bibou Nissack and Alain Fogué Tedom, two senior MRC members.
Sexual orientation and gender identity
Cameroon’s criminal code provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison for “sexual intercourse with a person of his sex”. Security forces arbitrarily arrested, beat or threatened at least 24 people, including a 17-year-old boy, for alleged consensual same-sex sex or gender nonconformity. Some were subjected to forced anal examinations. On May 11, a Cameroonian court sentenced Shakiro and Patricia, two transgender women, to five years in prison and fines of 200,000 CFA (US$370) for allegedly having sex with a person of their gender.
Justice and Accountability
Since January, seven hearings have been held in the trial of three members of the security forces accused of being involved in the killing of 21 civilians in the village of Ngarbuh, in the North West region. The trial is being held before a military court in Yaoundé, about 380 kilometers from Ngarbuh, making it difficult for the families of the victims to come. The defendants are charged with murder, arson, acts of destruction, violence against a pregnant woman and violation of instructions. Seventeen members of a vigilante group and a former separatist fighter have also been charged, but remain free.
In June 2020, the French Ambassador to Cameroon told the media that President Biya had assured him that an investigation would be opened into the death in custody of journalist Samuel Wazizi which occurred in August 2019. However, the investigation did not has made no progress.
On July 26, the Special Criminal Court, responsible for monitoring cases relating to the embezzlement of public funds, postponed for the 74th time the trial of journalist Amadou Vamoulké, arrested in 2016 for alleged embezzlement of public funds. In 2020, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that his detention was arbitrary.
On September 7, a military court in Buea, in the South West region, sentenced four people to be shot by firing squad for killing seven children and injuring at least 13 others last year in a school in Kumba, in the South-West region. Defense lawyers said the trial was marred by serious procedural flaws, firstly due to the use of military tribunals to try civilians, and the entire indictment relying on testimony from alleged witnesses , none of whom had gone to court to have these statements examined.
In addition to these obstacles which prevented the defendants from presenting their defence, no translation from English or French into Cameroonian Pidgin English, the language spoken by the majority of the defendants, had been provided.
In a press release issued on October 14, the army spokesman acknowledged the “disproportionate reaction” of a gendarme who shot and killed a four-year-old girl on her way to school in Buea, in the South-West region, and specified that an investigation had been opened.
Discrimination against women is a common phenomenon in Cameroonian society and is enshrined in legislation that subordinates the status of women to men. The Civil Code, in force in the French-speaking regions, stipulates that the man is the head of the family (article 213), that the choice of the residence of the family belongs to the husband (article 215), that men and women do not enjoy equal rights in matters of real estate (Article 1428) and that within the framework of marriage, the two spouses do not enjoy equal administrative authority over their property (Articles 1421 and 1428).
The government has not released useful information on Covid-19 spending, and many health workers have reported receiving little or no support to support their response to the pandemic. pandemic. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) granted Cameroon two emergency loans as well as a multi-year program for a total amount exceeding one billion US dollars, and this, while the government has not fulfilled several of the commitments in transparency applying to these loans. On May 19, a Cameroonian media outlet published a summary of the audit report of the Chamber of Accounts, the investigative body of the Supreme Court,
It recommended “the opening of ten procedures concerning facts likely to constitute offenses against the criminal law”. The Cameroonian authorities have not yet commissioned or published an independent audit of Covid-19-related expenditure, despite having promised the IMF to do so before December 31, 2020.
Key international players
In January, the Secretary of State of the Vatican visited Cameroon and expressed the willingness of the Roman Catholic Church to facilitate a dialogue between the government and the separatists.
On June 7, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced visa restrictions “for individuals believed to be responsible for or complicit in acts that undermine the peaceful resolution of the crisis in English-speaking regions of Cameroon” and condemned “human rights abuses and abuses, as well as threats against peacekeepers or humanitarian workers”.
Although Cameroon is not formally on the agenda of the UN Security Council, Council members discuss the country in periodic sessions devoted to the work of the UN Regional Office for Africa. Central (UNOCA). Human Rights Watch and other organizations have urged the Council to formally put the crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon on its agenda.
In November, the European Parliament adopted a resolution deploring human rights abuses in Cameroon and calling on the EU to redouble its efforts to address them. The EU has repeatedly raised its concerns about Cameroon with the UN Human Rights Council.