The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has condemned the forced returns of Cameroon asylum-seekers from Nigeria. In a report on its website, Thursday, the UN organ recommended that they be treated in accordance with human rights law and standards.
“We also urge the Government of Cameroon to ensure that the group is treated in accordance with human rights law and standards.”
47 Cameroonians, were forcefully returned from Nigeria and handed over to the Cameroonian authorities on 26 January 2018.
Not leaving out Nigeria, the UNHCR has also reminded Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and has urged its Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin.
Most of the individuals in question had submitted asylum claims. Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law.
The UNHCR had in January criticized the extradition of Cameroonians seeking asylum, in Nigeria, however both the act was carried out.
“To ensure the proper management of the influx in line with international humanitarian principles, UNHCR is continuing its advocacy with Nigerian authorities to safeguard the rights of those fleeing the crisis and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance in safety and dignity. UNHCR has negotiated the release of some asylum seekers arrested by Nigerian authorities. For others still in detention, including the leadership of the pro-independence group, the government has agreed to grant UNHCR access for the determination of their status. The government has further reassured UNHCR that those detained would not be returned to Cameroon.”
A serious debate is being raised, whether an extradition treaty exists between these two countries; while the Cameroon government says it is legal, Nigerian authorities haven’t made any statement yet on it.
Cameroon citizens have gone further to question if the extradition of these people labeled by the Cameroonian government as terrorist will bring back normalcy to the restive regions of Cameroon.
Ever since the group of 47 were reported to have arrived Cameroon, same stories of unrest, violence and insecurity are still being spoken of, in some areas in the restive Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon.