“Torture, secret detentions”, a new HRW report tackles Cameroon

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UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Human Rights Watch has denounced in a new report “a regular resort to torture and incommunicado detention” by the Cameroonian authorities against English-speaking separatists. This document comes in an already tense context between Cameroon and the NGO, which said on May 2 that one of its researchers had been banned from entering the country.

“The Cameroonian authorities have tortured and held incommunicado persons in a detention center in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. Gendarmes and other security forces at the Secretary of State for Defense (SED) have practiced severe beatings and near-drownings to obtain confessions from detainees suspected of having links with armed separatist groups ” , Human Rights Watch (HRW), released on Monday, May 6, said in a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“Torture and secret detentions”, well-known practices long criticized by Maximilienne Ngo Mbe, executive director of REDHAC (Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa), who testifies in an interview in Sputnik.

“What Human Rights Watch said in its report is what we were denouncing well before 2016, with the secret detentions of the alleged terrorists of the Boko Haram sect. The RHEDAC confirms that there are indeed in Cameroon torture and secret detentions. These are unconventional prisons. In Cameroon, you have the GSO [Special Operations Group, an elite police unit Ndlr], the SED … it is an innate practice among the Cameroonian authorities, “protested Maximilienne Ngo Mbe at the microphone Sputnik.

She adds that “those who practice it very often say that the order comes from Yaounde. Generally, when the police stop you anywhere in the country, they first ask the administrative authorities what will be done in your case. It is the executive who decides where you are detained.
For this human rights activist,

“Abuses of power in Cameroon are legion. Even us, human rights defenders, are followed daily by intelligence services. Among other cases of abuse, we have cases of arrest without warrant, no compliance with the time limits of custody. You have people who come to your home, arrest you and take you to Yaoundé without respecting any legal procedure. We lived it with the arrest of Maurice Kamto and his supporters at Albert Dzongang’s home in Douala. All this is because there is no separation of powers, “adds Ms. Ngo Mbe.

In its report, HRW condemns all the abuses committed on people suspected of being part of the English-speaking separatists involved in the violent secessionist crisis that has shaken the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon for two years.

“In the past year, security forces in Cameroon have resorted to torture without fear of repercussions,” said Lewis Mudge, director for Central Africa at HRW.

The NGO said it documented 26 cases of incommunicado detention and enforced disappearances at the SED detention center between January 2018 and January 2019, including 14 cases of torture. It asks the UN Security Council to put the situation of Cameroon on its agenda and to condemn these acts.

“The UN Security Council should send a clear message that ending torture in detention is crucial to respond to the crisis in English-speaking areas,” said Mudge.

The NGO does not spare the other side either. Indeed,

HRW accuses armed separatists of “committing serious abuses, including attacks on schools, killings, kidnappings and extortion. […] Separatist leaders should give clear orders to prevent combatants from attacking civilians and mistreating the people they hold.”

The Cameroonian authorities have very often accused the NGO of being “biased”. Regarding one of the latest HRW reports, pointing to alleged abuses by the Cameroonian army on civilians in English-speaking areas, government spokesman René Emmanuel Sadi counterattacked on 2 April claiming that

“The Cameroonian Government categorically rejects these accusations, blatantly against the Republican Forces, engaged in a fight for the preservation of the territorial integrity of the State and the protection of persons and property, in the North-West regions and the Southwest, in accordance with their sovereign obligations, in strict compliance with international conventions on human rights, and fully aware of their responsibility.”

It seems in any case that the accumulation of HRW reports annoys Yaoundé. In mid-April, an HRW researcher working on the Anglophone crisis was turned back at Douala International Airport, according to a statement released by the organization on May 2.

“On April 12, agents at the Douala International Airport banned Ilaria Allegrozzi, Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher on Central Africa, from entering the country,” without giving any explanation, said the report. NGO “Banning our researcher from entering the country is clearly a step backward for Cameroon,” lamented Philippe Bolopion, one of the leaders of the organization.

The NGO recalled in this statement that two days before Ms. Allegrozzi was banned from entering the territory, HRW had published a report of an attack by Cameroonian forces in a village in the English-speaking area, which had makes five deaths.

“The government’s response confirms that it is struggling to cope with pressure from the European Union and the United States of America with regard to human rights violations and the humanitarian crisis in the English-speaking regions. .
Human Rights Watch is one of several organizations that has provided many details about the frequent human rights violations committed by the Cameroonian government, particularly the illegal and arbitrary arrests of opposition leaders. All indications are that the Cameroonian government seems to be very embarrassed and unable to give the opposition leaders a fair trial, “Immanuel Bumakor, an expert in international relations, told Sputnik’s microphone.

The specialist comes back on these bad signals coming from Yaounde.

“The government’s attitude will not help to improve the already bad relations with the international community. And the whole world has every reason to believe that the Biya regime is illegitimate. It is for this reason that more action from the international community will be undertaken, because we can see that the UN Security Council is already attentive to what is happening in Cameroon, “concludes Immanuel Bumakor.

Speaking on the human rights situation in Cameroon, Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, returning from a four-day visit to Cameroon, said Monday, May 6 that ” civilians trapped between separatists and government forces were “increasingly vulnerable to deadly abuses and violations on both sides”.

“The armed forces must earn and maintain the trust of local people. To do this, they must scrupulously respect the framework of international law and standards, “she added in a statement received by Sputnik.

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