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African Union Rights Commission urged to Address Abuses in Cameroon

The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) has been urged to urgently address the deteriorating human rights situation in Cameroon in a letter signed by leading rights organisations.

This is the first time that human rights organisations have raised the case of Cameroon before ACHPR. The signatories of the letter addressed to the Chairperson of ACHPR, Solomon Dersso are 65 in number.

“Over the past three years, Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have been embroiled in a cycle of violence that has claimed 3000 lives, forced half a million people to flee their homes and left over 700,000 children out of school,” the organisations said in the letter.

“Government forces and armed separatists have both been responsible for serious human rights abuses. Security forces have killed civilians, burned dozens of villages, arbitrarily arrested and tortured hundreds of alleged armed separatists,” they noted. “Armed separatists have also targeted civilians, kidnapped hundreds of people, tortured and killed perceived opponents, while using intimidation and violence to keep children and their teachers out of school.”

The rights organisations have called on ACHPR to look into the violations by Cameroon of its commitments under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, by urging the commission and its chair to:  

  • Refer serious and systematic human rights violations in Cameroon to the next Assembly of Heads of State and Governments scheduled to take place 30 and 31 January 2020;
  • Provide a briefing to the Peace and Security Council;
  • Establish and carry out a fact-finding mission into all allegations of human rights abuses committed in the Anglophone regions since late 2016 and recommend future steps to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice;
  • Call upon the African Union to create the position of a special envoy on Cameroon who reports directly to the African Union Peace and Security Council. Beyond acting as a liaison between the Cameroonian government and the African Union, this envoy should inquire into and rapidly report on civilian protection needs and challenges.

Weeks after Cameroon convened a national dialogue to solve the three – year long conflict, observers are saying it might achieve nothing. The dialogue, which came after international pressure was held without separatist leaders.

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