Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Stop Human Rights Violations In Cameroon’s Anglophone Region

The authors of this article

By Essa Njie and Theophilus Odaudu
Since 2016, the human rights situation in the anglophone regions of Cameroon has been deteriorating.
It all started with peaceful protests organised by lawyers, teachers and students in the region demanding for the posting of anglophone Cameroonians to key positions in the judiciary, civil service and educational institutions.
The state responded with brutal force killing at least 10 people and injuring hundreds.
This crack down increased agitation in the region and further calls for reform and even secession.
The government militarised the area and conducted series of operations against protesters killing even more people.
Amnesty International has reported arson attacks, torture, incommunicado detentions, arbitrary and extra-judicial executions, murder and other in human acts against civilians.
These atrocities are committed by both the Cameroon security forces and armed separatist movements.
From the end of 2017 to date, more than 150,000 people have been internally displaced and over 20,000 have fled to neighbouring Nigeria in the wake of increased violence in the region.
Cameroon is edging closer to civil war every day as the world watches in silence.
In light of the above human rights violations currently unfolding in Southern Cameroon, it is pertinent that the government be made to abide by its obligations as a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to respect, protect and fulfill the rights contained in the Charter.
Currently, there is an alarming rate of arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, death in custody and excessive use of force when dealing with protesters.
Therefore, the government must ensure accountability by conducting prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and those found culpable must be punished in line with the rules of engagement.
The crisis in Southern Cameroon can be managed through meaningful engagement between state and nonstate actors to find lasting solution to the crisis.
However, since the Cameroonian government has failed in its responsibility to protect its citizens from grave human rights abuses, the international community has a role to play.

Under article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act, the AU has the responsibility to intervene in grave circumstances such as crimes against humanity.

Where a State is seen to be unable or unwilling to protect its people from human rights violations, the international community has the responsibility to come in and protect the people.

This is another opportunity for the AU to demonstrate its capacity to apply African solutions to African problems.

As it is commonly said, ‘without peace, development is not possible; and without development, peace is not durable.’

Hence, to prevent an escalation of the current situation in Cameroon into one of anarchy, chaos and armed conflict that could threaten international peace and security, urgent action must be taken immediately to arrest the situation.

Therefore, the AU and the UN should undertake fact finding country visits to Cameroon with a view to setting mechanisms in place to stop the carnage going on in that part of the world.

Like Martin Luther King Jr. rightly posited, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

NOTE: This article was authored by Essa and Theophilus on behalf of the 2018 class of the Master’s programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
For the CHR’s press release on the human rights violations in Cameroon, please click on the link below: http://www.chr.up.ac.za/index.php/about-the-cameroon-campaign.html

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