Michelle Bachelete the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights after a four days official visit to Cameroon made an appraisal of the Human Rights situation of the country. Identifying responsibility in acts of human rights abuses in the North West and South West Regions, Michelle Bachelet said the security forces have been accused of committing serious violations, including extrajudicial killings and torture against civilians and captured fighters in both the North West and South West.
She said in the western (North West and South West) regions schools, hospitals and other key infrastructures have been targeted and destroyed by armed separatist groups. Government employees, including teachers who have dared to continue teaching, have also been targeted.
On a general note the UN Rights Chief welcomes the acceptance of the government of Cameroon to work with the UN Human Rights office and the rest of the UN, to seek effective solutions to the major human rights and humanitarian crisis caused by the serious unrest and violence taking place in North West, South West and the Far North Regions. She believes there are windows of opportunities to come out of the crisis which must be backed by substantial and sustained support from the international community including the UN.
Highlighting the fact that Cameroon faces disturbing insecurity in most parts, the UN Rights Chief underscored atrocities such as soldiers and civilians being mutilated and killed, entire villages burned down, and children abducted and forced to join armed groups especially in the context of Boko ha5ram.
Michele Bachelet indicated that she met with opposition party leaders, civil society, church leaders and about eight different Ministers of the Biya regime and President Paul Biya himself. She also confered with some institutions like the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms and the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism.
In all Bachelet offered to provide advice and assistance to Cameroon – similar to the G5 forces in the Sahel – to help ensure that military operations are in compliance with International Human Rights standards and that violations are prevented in their operations.
Michele Bachelot stressed that members of the security forces who commit serious violations should be held accountable.
She condemned the targeting of civilians and the difficulties to access the conflict-hit areas by humanitarian aid and said the solution to the conflict in the North West and South West Regions is dialogue with an in-depth look at the root causes of the problem.
It is over 2 years now since ghost town phenomenon started in the two restive Anglophone regions, since 2 years, the Mayor of Buea, Ekema Patrick Esunge, waged a ferocious fight against the civil disobedience without success. The Mayor has lamented that the enemies are very close to him, reasons why all efforts have proven futile.
Mr Ekema Patrick said that some in-house persons are involved concluding that not everyone within is for development, ” We have defended so well…some of our people, some of our brothers and sisters will galvanize resources to look for prolific players from a negative end to score goals. But we will remain vigilant to prevent goals from entering our net.” The Mayor told reporters in Buea.
It is over one year since Mr Ekema Patrick promised denizens that ghost town was going to be history. In a move to eliminate the phenomenon, he has carried out several campaigns including sealing of shops, impounding commercial vehicles(Taxis) to no avail.
Ambazonia Separatist fighters have for the past two year been reinforcing ghost towns every Monday Since January 9, 2017, with gunshots and threats of burning shops and cars.
They have on many occasions orchestrated the burning of cars especially around Bunduma in Buea and burning of shops in Mile 17.
Buea, capital of South West region has been worst hit after Bamenda town. A recent lock-down to sabotage the just ended Festival of Arts and Culture in Limbe, affected more than the targeted town.
The Human Rights Report card on Cameroon by the US State Department could be the same smooking gun the US could use to “refer the separatist conflict in Cameroon to an international forum”, (ie the International Criminal Court or UN Security Council).
You can read damning excerpts of the US State Department Report on Cameroon for 2018 here.
“Government security forces were widely believed to be responsible for disappearances of suspected Anglophone separatists, with reports of bodies dumped far from the site of killings to make identification difficult.
According to credible nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the government did not readily account for some of the activists arrested in connection with the Anglophone crisis.
Family members and friends of the detainees were frequently unaware of the missing individuals’ location in detention for a month or more. For example, authorities held incommunicado Ayuk Sisiku Tabe, the “interim president” of the so-called Republic of Ambazonia, along with 46 other Anglophone separatists, from January 29 until late June when they were allowed to meet with their lawyers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“There were credible reports that members of government forces physically abused and killed prisoners in their custody. In its July report, Human Rights Watch highlighted the case of Samuel Chiabah, popularly known as Sam Soya, whom members of government forces interrogated under harsh conditions and killed, following the killing of two gendarmes by armed separatists at a checkpoint between Bamenda and Belo in the Northwest Region. A video widely circulated on social media featured Sam Soya sitting on the floor and being questioned about the killings, along with one other suspect. In the video Sam Soya could be heard crying in agony and denying participation in the killings. Photographs were released on social media that showed members of security forces in uniform using a bladed weapon to slice open Sam Soya’s neck and the leg of the other man, both of whom were lying face down on the floor and in handcuffs.”