Thursday, July 26, 2018

Shootings on Video in Cameroon ‘May Not Be Isolated Cases,’ U.N. Fears

Soldiers patrolling the streets of Buea, in southwestern Cameroon, in April. The actions of security forces and armed separatists in the area have been condemned by human rights groups..Credit /Alexis Huguet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Dionne Searcey ( July 25,2018)
DAKAR, Senegal — In the video, a man in a military uniform leads a woman down a dirt road, smacking her in the head several times as she holds a little girl’s hand and stumbles along. Another woman trails them with an infant strapped to her back. The group is blindfolded and made to sit on the ground.

Armed uniformed men raise their weapons and fire.
“The girl is still breathing,” someone says after the shooters pause, and one walks over to the limp bodies.

A uniformed man approaches the girl and fires again.
This graphic video, which has circulated on social media in recent days, appears to show soldiers in Cameroon executing two women, a child and baby on suspicion of being affiliated with Boko Haram. It has drawn outrage from human rights advocates and riled secessionist groups that have taken up arms in English-speaking areas of the country and say that they, too, have suffered abuses at the hands of the military

On Wednesday, the United Nation’s high commissioner for human rights expressed alarm at continuing violence in Cameroon, saying he was “utterly appalled” by the horrific video.

“The government of Cameroon has an obligation to investigate this atrocious crime urgently,” said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the high commissioner. “I am deeply worried that these killings captured on camera may not be isolated cases.”

The United States Department of State has called for an inquiry, and Cameroonian officials have said they would investigate the episode. Some officials have told various groups that four soldiers have been arrested in the shootings, but others have denied that, calling it “fake news.”

Security forces in Cameroon have battled Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist group, for years in the north of the country. Now, the country faces new threats from a protest movement that has inspired an armed separatist group demanding the creation of a breakaway nation in the south. Government forces have been accused of abuses in both conflicts.

A presidential election due to be held in October — in which President Paul Biya, now in his 36th year of power, is running for re-election — is adding to tension.
Videos of abuses by security forces posted to social media have served to escalate the violence. In English-speaking areas, it has worsened significantly in recent weeks and claimed at least 425 lives, according to the United Nations agency Unicef.

Many of the clips cannot be verified. The statement from the United Nations said it had repeatedly asked to enter English-speaking areas, but the government had denied access.
The recent video appears to have been filmed in the Far North, a region where Boko Haram operates. Its timing could not be determined, but diplomats believe it to be authentic.

Such action, as horrible as it is, did not come as a surprise to some human rights activists in Cameroon who say that security forces have been acting with impunity for years, especially in the fight against Boko Haram. Amnesty International and other groups have publicized numerous abuses.
“These extrajudicial killings are part of a broader pattern,” said Agbor Balla, a human rights lawyer in Cameroon

Cameroonian defense officials said they had arrested a soldier in the rape of a woman in Bamenda, a major city in the English-speaking area. News of the arrest followed the publication of a video of the woman recounting being attacked after failing to produce identification at a military checkpoint.

Actions of both security forces and armed separatists in southern Cameroon have been condemned by human rights groups. Military forces have used deadly force on unarmed protesters, firing on some from helicopters and torching homes. Separatists have carried out kidnappings and targeted killings of police officers and local officials, and have burned schools.

Tens of thousands of civilians caught in the middle of the violence have fled — both from Boko Haram areas and from areas where armed separatists are operating.

Courtesy:New York Times

Friday, July 13, 2018

In Troubled Cameroon, U.S. Envoy Is Accused of Election Meddling

Government soldiers patrolling the streets of Buea, in southwest Cameroon, in April. About 1,000 armed rebels have been waging a separatist insurgency in the area.Alexis Huguet/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By Dionne Searcey and Francois Essomba

DAKAR, Senegal (July 12)— When the American ambassador took up his post in Cameroon late last year, he stepped into an increasingly troubled nation, locked in battle against Islamist militants in one part of the country and armed separatists in another.
And then there is the matter of its leader.
Cameroon has not had a new president since Michael Jackson released “Thriller” in 1982.
Under the 36-year leadership of President Paul Biya, the nation has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including killing unarmed protesters, torturing detainees, shutting off the internet and locking up journalists.
Last month, Washington’s ambassador, Peter Henry Barlerin, met with the 85-year-old president, who has taken initial steps to seek re-election in October. He told Mr. Biya that he “should be thinking about his legacy and how he wants to be remembered in the history books,” saying that George Washington and Nelson Mandela were excellent role models.
The remarks caused an uproar among officials in Cameroon and in the local media, which accused him of trying to influence a foreign election. The minister of foreign affairs summoned the ambassador for a scolding. Mr. Barlerin even received death threats.

The ambassador, a career diplomat, noted that his comments were made following a discussion with the president about the need to stop the violence in areas where the military is battling a bloody separatist uprising.
“We do not have a preferred outcome for the election,” Mr. Barlerin said in a recent interview, emphasizing that he has stressed that to government officials. “We want a strong and stable Cameroon.”
The matter seemed to quiet down, temporarily, until late last month when Mr. Barlerin’s photo was plastered across the covers of at least three local newspapers, which accused him of paying nearly $5 million to opposition candidates in the presidential race
The United States Embassy strongly disputed the claim, releasing a statement that described the story as “entirely false.”
Peter Barlerin, the United States ambassador to Cameroon/ CreditU.S. Department of State
Opposition members also denied the reports and speculated they had been planted by the president’s supporters, who know that the population would be appalled at any foreign attempt to influence elections.
“All this agitation is simply that the officials are looking for the sympathy of the people,” said Hilaire Kamga, one of the candidates running against Mr. Biya.
The controversy stirred by the American ambassador is a sign of just how deeply entrenched Cameroon’s current government is. Critics say his loyalists operate with impunity, creating nothing more than a charade of a democracy.
Cameroon has been accused of abusing human rights as it fights the militant group Boko Haram and tries to stop a secession movement being fought by an estimated 1,000 armed rebels who want to create a new, English-speaking nation they call Ambazonia. That conflict, which some analysts fear could spiral into civil war, already has claimed at least 425 lives, according to Unicef, and is spilling into new territories.
Amnesty International said on Thursday it had gathered “credible evidence” that an assault depicted in a horrifying video, showing the shooting deaths of several women and infants by men in camouflaged uniforms, appears to have been carried out by Cameroonian soldiers battling Boko Haram in the country’s Far North. Cameroon’s military and government officials called it “fake news.”
The storm caused by Mr. Barlerin’s remarks about Mr. Biya’s legacy is not the first time American diplomats have become entangled in election controversy on the continent.

n Kenya during the Obama era, Johnnie Carson, then the top American official for Africa, repeatedly warned during the 2013 presidential election that “choices have consequences.” His remarks were interpreted as taking sides against one of the candidates, Uhuru Kenyatta, who had been accused of crimes against humanity. Mr. Carson’s words seemed to backfire, energizing an electorate that voted Mr. Kenyatta into office.
Cameroon’s opposition is fractured, and, like in past elections, no candidate with a mass following has emerged. Analysts fear that many voters who most likely would cast a ballot for someone other than the incumbent probably will not be able to vote because of violence that will keep polls from opening.
Some Cameroonians are so fed up with the government that they may withhold their vote in protest, said Hans De Marie Heungoup, a Central Africa senior analyst for the International Crisis Group. Some protests could turn violent, he said, and the military has a record of firing on unarmed protesters.
Past elections won by Mr. Biya have been called flawed and full of irregularities.
Even though victory for Mr. Biya seems likely if he formally joins the race, his supporters were still miffed at what they interpreted as an attempt at a foreign government to urge him to step down.
“The American ambassador is not an enemy of Cameroon,” said Saint-Eloi Bidoung, a first deputy mayor in Yaoundé, the capital, and a member of the governing party. “But he should know that the departure of President Biya from power depends solely on the will of Cameroonians, and not from a foreign power, even the United States of America.”
Emmanuel Simh, a founding member of the opposition Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon, called the ambassador’s remarks “normal diplomacy” and said they caused a stir only because Mr. Biya’s supporters are panicked about losing power.
For most of the past few months, Mr. Biya has been present in Cameroon, a notable fact for a president who spends considerable time in a hotel in Switzerland. An investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found that Mr. Biya has spent a total of four and a half years abroad on private trips. During 2006 and 2009 he spent a third of his time out of the country.
Mr. Biya was absent in 2016 when a train overloaded with passengers derailed, killing dozens. And last year when protests by separatists turned violent, the president was in Switzerland.
Critics call him the President of the Hotel Intercontinental, for his preferred accommodation in Geneva.
The Corruption Reporting Project estimated that Mr. Biya has spent $182 million of public money on his private travel. Nearly half of the nation’s population lives below the poverty line.
That Mr. Biya can spend so much time abroad with few implications at home demonstrates his grasp on power.
Government officials have benefited from Mr. Biya’s long tenure. Like many nations in the region, Cameroon is a place of haves and have-nots. Outside Yaoundé, golden painted homes sit atop lush hillsides while beaten-down shacks line the roads at the bottom.

“Ministers,” locals sigh and shrug when asked who lives on the hilltops.
Any plans for a post-Biya nation are murky. If he wins the presidency again, Mr. Biya would be in his 90s by the end of his seven-year term. If he were to die in office, the Senate president would take over until an election is held two months later. But analysts question whether Mr. Biya’s powerful loyalists would stand by idly.
“The institutions there are so weak,” Mr. De Marie Heungoup said.
Unlike other countries in the region that rely on oil revenues to finance most of their budgets, Cameroon has a more diverse economy that includes agriculture and manufacturing, which allowed it to weather a drop in oil prices better than neighboring Nigeria.
Cameroon is in the middle of an unstable region. Conflicts abound in nearby Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the region’s war with Boko Haram has spilled across borders. Cameroon has welcomed tens of thousands of refugees from those conflicts and has been a key partner with foreign militaries in fighting Boko Haram.
Mr. Barlerin said his office recently had emphasized, as a precaution, to the Cameroon government that the military equipment Americans have provided for the fight against Boko Haram must not be used to fight separatists.
“It’s a wonderful country and we’ve had a lot of good cooperation from the government,” Mr. Barlerin said. “I don’t want to see it go up in smoke.”He added: “The only thing we want is for elections to be free, fair and credible and that the will of the Cameroonian people be heard.”
Dionne Searcey reported from Dakar, Senegal, and Francois Essomba from Yaoundé, Cameroon
Source:The New York Times


Cameroon: Credible evidence that Army personnel responsible for shocking extrajudicial executions caught on video

An investigation by Amnesty International experts has gathered credible evidence that it was Cameroonian soldiers depicted in a video carrying out the horrific extrajudicial executions of two women and two young children. While an investigation has now been announced, the Ministry of Communication earlier dismissed video footage of the killings as “fake news”.
Extensive analysis of the weapons, dialogue and uniforms that feature in the video, paired with digital verification techniques and testimonies taken from the ground, all strongly suggest that the perpetrators of the executions are Cameroonian soldiers.
“The Cameroonian authorities’ initial claim that this shocking video is fake simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. We can provide credible evidence to the contrary. Given the gravity of these horrific acts – the cold blooded and calculated slaughter of women and young children – these hasty and dismissive denials cast serious doubt over whether any investigation will be genuine,” said Samira Daoud, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s West Africa office.
“It is imperative that a proper, impartial investigation is undertaken and those responsible for these abhorrent acts are brought to justice.” 
While all the elements analyzed so far by Amnesty International strongly suggest the authenticity of the video, the date at which it was taken remains unclear.
The video shows the soldiers using either a Galil or a Zastava M21, in addition to Kalashnikov-style rifles. While AK-type weapons are common, the weapon we strongly believe was used in the execution - either a Galil or the very similar Zastava M21 - is comparatively rare. The Small Arms Survey lists the Galil as only “occasional” in sub-Saharan Africa among governments, and as unknown among non-state actors. The only force in the area carrying Galil’s are a small subset of the Cameroon Army. The Zastava M21 is not specifically reported in the Small Arms Survey online database.
Both the weapons and uniforms of the soldiers in the video are indicative of the Cameroon army, and display patterns consistent with a number of possible units, including regular infantry and the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), the special forces of the Cameroonian army.
The person filming the video specifically identifies two members of the group as soldiers. The first is a second-rank soldier (soldat de deuxième grade) who he names as “Cobra”, the second a Master Corporal (caporal chef) who is named as “Tchotcho”. These names mean that the group can be identified.
The Master Corporal’s uniform is a tiger stripe pattern that is standard among Cameroon regular army. The other soldiers are wearing black shirts and green-and-black woodland pants. While the Ministry of Communication claims that the mixed and casual nature of the uniforms indicates a lack of authenticity, Amnesty investigators have found the opposite. Mixed and partial uniforms are common among army personnel, especially in remote areas where this incident took place. Soldiers in the Far North region wearing casual flip flops and T-shirts, as well as a mix of tiger stripe print and woodland print, can be clearly seen in videos previously verified by Amnesty International.
The soldiers are followed by about 10 people whom the sources consulted said are most likely members of the local vigilantes’ committee (because they carry light weapons such as clubs and machetes) from the nearby village.
According to Amnesty International’s analysts, the video was likely filmed in the Mayo Tsanaga area in the Far North region of Cameroon. The vegetation is generally consistent and matches other footage from the area. Terrace cultivations, as visible in the video, are found in Mayo Tsanaga. The rocks, the mountains and the low-growing shrubs (locally known as “tchaski”) can also be found in Mayo Tsanaga. There is a military base located in Mozogo in this region.
“The evidence we have provided forms a firm basis for strongly suggesting that the individuals committing these atrocities are members of Cameroon’s armed forces. Some individuals are clearly identifiable and cannot be allowed to get away with such a heinous act with impunity,” said Samira Daoud.
“While the crimes under international law, including war crimes, and human rights violations committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon are despicable, absolutely nothing can justify the crimes being committed by some members of the armed forces.”
Amnesty International is calling for those suspected of criminal responsibility for these crimes under international law, including superiors who knew or should have known that subordinates were committing the extrajudicial executions, to be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts. 
Amnesty International has documented crimes under international law, some amounting to war crimes, as well as human rights violations by members of the Cameroonian security forces in their fight against the armed group Boko Haram in the Far North region of the country.
This includes the widespread use of torture to extract ‘confessions’ from hundreds of people accused – often with little or no evidence – of being affiliated with Boko Haram.
Courtesy: Anmesty International,12 July 2018

Monday, July 9, 2018

Gunfire in Cameroon's English restive region

File: The army and police have retaliated to separatist fighters who entered several areas of the city and started firing according to sources. Photo: Alexis Huguet / AFP
YAOUNDE, Cameroon – Gunfire broke out on Monday in Buea, the capital of a western region of Cameroon gripped by violence between anglophone separatists and security forces, witnesses said.
"We have been hearing gunfire since early this morning in the districts of Molyko, Malingo and Bonduma," a resident told AFP by phone, in an account confirmed by three other people.
"Separatist fighters entered several areas of the city and started firing. The army and police have retaliated, several vehicles have been burned (and) people are hunkered down at home." another witness said.
Buea is capital of Southwest Region which with the neighbouring Northwest Region is home to most of Cameroon's English-speakers, who account for about a fifth of a mainly French-speaking population of 22 million.
Years of resentment at perceived discrimination at the hands of the francophone majority fuelled demands for anglophone autonomy, which on October 1 last year culminated in a symbolic declaration of independence.
Radicals named Buea as the capital of the self-declared state, Ambazonia, which has no international recognition. A government crackdown then followed, plunging the two regions into almost daily acts of violence and retribution.
According to a government report last month, separatists had killed 74 soldiers and seven police since late 2017 while more than 100 civilians had died "over the past 12 months."
A colonial legacy 
The presence of a large English-speaking minority in Cameroon dates back to the colonial period.
The former German colony was divided between Britain and France after World War I. The French colony gained independence in 1960, becoming Cameroon.
The following year, the British-ruled Southern Cameroons were amalgamated into it, giving rise to the Northwest and Southwest regions. The fighting has had a dramatic impact on civilian life.
UN says 160,000 people have been internally displaced and 20,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria. On June 20, the government announced plans for a 12.7 billion CFA franc ($21-million, 19-million-euro) emergency aid plan for the two regions. 
The public has already stumped up more than half a billion CFA francs to the fund, according to state media.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Cameroon’s Worsening Anglophone Crisis Highlights Need for Dialogue and Inclusion

By Hilary Matfess*
Though Boko Haram’s lethality and tactical innovation, al-Shabaab’s resilience, and the brokering of partnerships by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have rightfully dominated analysis of political violence in Africa, other situations are also increasingly relevant for those concerned with political violence in Africa. With the escalation of the crisis in Anglophone Cameroon and the October general elections presenting a risk of further increased tensions, the evolution of the country’s conflict and its implications for political violence across the continent is worth noting.
Much can be learned about conflict escalation from the Cameroonian government’s reaction to the calls of Anglophone activists, which has pushed the country towards violent conflict and has made the prospects for peaceful dialogue ever dimmer. The Cameroonian government, historically, has not effectively integrated and engaged its Anglophone population through inclusive governance practices. And since protests erupted nearly two years ago, the Biya administration has not seem inclined to engage in peaceful dialogue to draw down the crisis. Taken together, these suggest that the scale of the conflict, and its lethality, are likely to escalate.
Origins of the Crisis
The origin of friction between Anglophone and Francophone populations in Cameroon can be traced back to the colonial era. Originally under German rule, Cameroon was partitioned between the French and British into two territories, both governed as trusts. Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians were unified under a federal system in 1961 after a plebiscite was held in which voters were given a choice to join either Nigeria or Cameroon. It is worth mentioning that, among Anglophone Cameroonians, nearly 60 percent of Anglophones in the majority-Muslim northern region voted to join Nigeria, while roughly 70 percent of Anglophones in the majority-Christian southern region voted to join Cameroon.
In 1972, under President Ahmadou Ahidjo, the federal system was discarded in favor of a united, bilingual republic. To this day, however, Anglophone regions are governed by Common Law, whereas the rest of the country is governed by a civil code. Debates over the extent to which the country is dominated by Francophones, what sub-national authorities that the two Anglophone regions should be granted, and various cultural matters, have resulted in a proliferation of Anglophone activist groups and general politicking around the issue. Groups that may seem at face value to be apolitical—including teachers’ unions and legal associations—have taken up Anglophone issues as a part of political campaigns.
Anglophones currently make up roughly 20 percent of the country’s population and are undeniably under-represented in President Paul Biya’s government. Since taking power in 1982, less than 11 percent of the ministers appointed by Biya have been Anglophones. At present, just three of the 33 generals in the country and six of the 63-person cabinet members are Anglophones. Even within Anglophone districts, government jobs are often given to Francophone appointees.
Escalation of the Crisis
Though longstanding, the conflict between Anglophone and Francophone Cameroonians took a lethal turn in 2016 when widespread, peaceful protests and strikes emerged. Media reports focused on the role of Common Law lawyers advocating to abandon the Cameroonian Bar Association. Other groups, including the country’s teachers, then joined the protests. After weeks of strikes, gendarmes used tear gas against protesters. Shortly thereafter, four people were killed in clashes with security forces during a protest in Bamenda that arose after the Cameroon Teacher’s Trade Union called for a strike. Reports also emerged in late November of sexual violence against students at the University of Buea by Cameroonian security forces.
As the protests continued, the Biya government also began detaining and arresting Anglophone activists and journalists and shutting down newspapers and radio stations. Beginning in January 2017 the government cut or greatly slowed down internet services in Anglophone regions. The internet shutdown ended up being one of the longest recorded in sub-Saharan Africa, lasting just under 100 days. The shutdown was economically harmful—given the region’s reputation as “silicon mountain”—and also hamstrung efforts to keep track of events in the region.

At the same time, the government also engaged in some conciliatory measures. A National Commission on the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism was established and was accompanied in short order by the “appointing [of] Anglophone magistrates and bilingual teachers, and [the] releasing from prison some Anglophone civil society leaders and activists.” According to Amnesty International, however, “these moves were viewed by the Anglophone movements as being too limited,” and the protests continued.
The groups that have emerged to advance Anglophone rights have advocated different means and different ends. The vast majority of Anglophone activists advocate for peaceful resolution of the conflict, but as government repression has intensified, groups who advocate secession, or worse, violence, have become more significant. Some groups advocate for more federalism, while others call for secession and the establishment of an independent state called “Ambazonia.” A number of armed separatist groups also formed an umbrella organization, the Ambazonia Recognition Collaboration Council (ARCC), claiming to have thousands of fighters.
Through the spring and summer of 2017, however, Anglophone protesters steadily escalated their tactics. Over this period, at least 42 schools and a number of market stalls in Anglophone Cameroon were burned down. A recent report catalogued a number of instances in which Anglophone separatists targeted civilians who did not engage in the demonstrations. The Biya government imposed curfews and increased the security sector’s presence in the region in response. Despite this, Anglophone separatists declared independence on October 1, 2017; in clashes with the state security forces that day, reports indicated that at least a dozen people were killed and 40 arrested.
By November 2017, separatists were making attacks on the government more frequently and brazenly. In the Northwest province, for example, they began targeting police with homemade explosive devices. The Biya government stepped up its repression and arrests, labeled the separatists “terrorists” by comparing them to Boko Haram, and declared war on them.
Actions taken by armed separatist groups and the government continued to worsen. Separatists are suspected to have kidnapped nine employees of a construction firm and in response to the arrest and repatriation of Anglophone activists that fled to Nigeria, an armed separatist group called the Ambazonian Defence Force (ADF) began abducting government officials. Soon thereafter, a Tunisian national living in Cameroon was abducted and killed, after which the government organized a rescue mission to release 18 hostages, including 12 Europeans. Just this May, a radio journalist and Anglophone activist, Mancho Bibixy, was sentenced to 15 years in prison under the country’s anti-terrorism law in a military court. Four journalists had previously been held under the act until President Biya issued a presidential decree for their release. Bibixy’s conviction has prompted speculation about what sentences could be handed down to the other detained activists and journalists.
Throughout this escalation, more than 20,000 people have fled the country for neighboring Nigeria and an estimated 150,000 have been internally displaced. The escalation has transformed a generally peaceful, albeit contentious, debate over the extent and nature of federalism in modern Cameroon into a violent, potentially-existential crisis over the future of the Cameroonian state.
What Lies Ahead?
Though a number of the characteristics of this conflict are specific to Cameroon, the events of the past few years highlight the importance of inclusive governance measures and the ramifications of heavy-handed security responses to political dissidents. In particular, the Cameroonian experience points to the need to engage moderate political dissidents early and earnestly. In waiting months before attempting to work with the Anglophone community and doing so after violence began to escalate, the Biya administration allowed hardliners and separatists within the movement to mobilize effectively and gain influence. Had the government engaged the initial protests, led by lawyers and teachers, the escalation of the crisis may have been averted.
In October, Cameroon will hold elections, which could result in increased tensions. Anglophone territories have previously thrown their support behind the Social Democratic Front (SDF), which currently controls 18 of the 180 seats in parliament. If any perception of illegitimacy in the electoral process takes hold, the current level of violence could take an even deadlier turn. Avoiding an escalation of this kind, and ultimately changing the tone of the current situation, requires dialogue between prominent moderate, non-violent Anglophone activists and the government.
*Hilary Matfess is a PhD student at Yale University and the author of “Women and the War on Boko Haram: Wives, Weapons, Witnesses.” She tweets at @HilaryMatfess.
Originally Published in the Global Observatory
Courtesy: Reliefweb

African Commission Petitioned over Arbitrary Detention of Anglophones In Cameroon

The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon ,which erupted in October 2016,  is only worsening.There are    more arrests and detentions of suspect Anglophone activists,even as the Cameroon Government only  last June launched its Emergency Humanitarian Plan worth 12.7 billion Fcfa to cater for over a hundred thousands internally displaced people (IDPs).According to the UNHCR,over twenty thousand Cameroonians are already asylees in Nigeria as a result of the crisis.Anglophones are protesting against marginalization and the "Frenchification" of their way of life.

The worsening human rights situation has prompted the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and the Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC),of the University of Bristol,UK to petition the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights,calling for its immediate intervention
Below is the entire letter,which was written on July 5,2018 :

"Dear Commissioner Lumbu,


On behalf of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) and the Human Rights Implementation Centre (HRIC) we are writing to you in your capacity as Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, and the Commissioner with responsibility for Cameroon, to respectfully request the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene urgently in respect of 18 individuals who have been arbitrarily arrested and detained in Cameroon in the recent crackdown by the Government in the Anglophone regions, and in respect of whom we have received reports of their torture and ill-treatment whilst in detention.

The names of the individuals concerned are as follows:
1.      Tati Eric Ngu
2.      Harris Boseme
3.      Nkwetato Robert
4.      Ikoe Clinton
5.      Acha Ivo Aben
6.      John Marinus Ndenge
7.      Oben Frankline Tabot
8.      Eyond Charles
9.      Effia Gideon
10.  Ordema Francis
11.  Agbor Taku Joseph
12.  Awu Gregory Ashu
13.  Tanyi Robert Tatw
14.  Jong Orlandus
15.  Njeya Jukius Bawe
16.  Kum Nestor
17.  Ayukem Franklin
18.  Fonjong Armstrong

We understand that fifteen of these individuals were arrested between December 2017 and June 2018 during the Government’s recent brutal crackdown in South West region of Cameroon including the deployment of the military in the Anglophone regions and the disproportionate use of force in relation to protests against the marginalisation of Anglophones in the country. Since their arrest they have been held in detention without charge. In relation to three of the individuals namely: Ordema Francis, Agbor Taku Joseph, and Kum Nestor they were already serving sentences for reasons unconnected with the ‘Anglophone crisis’ but are alleged to have been communicating with groups connected with that protest.  

The arrests and detention are part of a worsening human rights situation in Cameroon, as noted by the African Commission in its Press Release issued on 29 January 2018. Fourteen of these individuals were being held in Buea Central Prison in South West Region Cameroon and a further four were being held in Secretariat d’Etat a la defense  (SED) the gendarmie headquarters in Yaoundé, but we have received reports that on or around 2 July 2018 they were all transferred to Maximum Prison in Kondengui in Yaoundé. It is reported that they are currently being detained in ‘Kosovo’ a section of the Kondengui maximum security prison. The transfer of the fourteen individuals from Buea Prison to Kondengui Prison in Yaoundé is, inter alia, contrary to the African Commission’s decision in relation to Communication no. 266/03 Kevin Mgwanga Gunme et al, adopted in May2009, wherein the African Commission called on the Government of Cameroon to “stop the transfer of accused persons from the Anglophone provinces for trial in the Francophone provinces”.  

We have also received reports that the individuals have been kept in tight chains and have been subjected to torture by prison guards.

Consequently we are concerned that the arrest, detention and transfer of these individuals is arbitrary and violates a range of human rights including in particular the rights to liberty and security of the person, freedom from discrimination, freedom of association, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression as set out under Articles 2, 6, 9, 10 and 11 of the African Charter, Articles 3, 19, 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and Articles 9, 18, 19, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil And Political Rights. 

We are also gravely concerned for their safety and well-being and that their treatment whilst in detention is in violation of Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as other international instruments prohibiting torture and other ill-treatment.

Therefore we would respectfully request you to call on the Cameroonian authorities to ensure that Ordema Francis, Agbor Taku Joseph, and Kum Nestor are treated strictly in accordance with their rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Cameroon’s obligations under international human rights law, and in relation to the other fifteen individuals to immediately and unconditionally release these individuals and seek immediate assurances from the Cameroonian authorities that they too will be treated strictly in accordance with the African Charter and international law.

Yours sincerely

Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla
Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
In Africa

 Professor Rachel Murray,
Professor of International Human Rights Law
Director of the Human Rights Implementation Centre,
 University of Bristol

C.c. Hon. Chair of the Commission; the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa