The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network (PAHRDN) meeting in Nouakchott, Mauritania on the sidelines of the 62nd Ordinary Session of African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, expresses serious concern over the continuing massive violation of human rights in the Anglophone Regions of Cameroon.
The Regional Networks of Human Rights Defenders in Africa deplore the deteriorating Human Rights Situation in Cameroon and Call on Authorities to take Immediate Action to Address the Situation and to inform the national and international community on the situation of 47 detainees held in connection to the Anglophone Crisis
Since November 2016, the militarization of the Anglophone regions by the Cameroon Government and the crackdown on the advocates for the self determination of the Anglophone regions have resulted in gross and systematic human rights violations. Hundreds of unarmed civilians have reportedly been killed, dozens disappeared, hundreds arbitrarily arrested, tortured and some charged with acts of terrorism. Several villages including Kembong, Kwakwa, and Bua Bakundu, have been razed and pillaged by the military.
The military operations have also led to a humanitarian crisis in the Anglophone regions, with massive displacements of women and children, as well as the destruction of livelihoods.
PAHRDN has received reports of continuing enforced disappearance, illegal and arbitrary detention of 47 Cameroonian refuges and asylum seekers arrested in Nigeria against international law and transferred to Cameroon on 26 January 2018.
Since their arrival in Cameroon from Nigeria and the subsequent declaration of the Minister of Communication and spokesperson of the Government Mr. Issa Tchiroma Bakary attesting that they were in fact in the custody of the Cameroonian authorities, little effort has been made by the same to communicate on their whereabouts.
It is alleged that the detainees have been consistently denied access to their families and lawyers and continue to be held incommunicado without information as to their well-being. By acting in this arbitrary manner, the Cameroonian authorities are reneging on their obligations under national laws, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and international human rights standards, which regulates the regimes of arrest and detention.
The Pan African-Human Rights Defenders Network is seriously concerned by the reluctance of the Cameroonian authorities to engage in a frank and inclusive dialogue to resolve the root causes of the Anglophone crisis. PAHRDN is further concerned that failure to resolve the crisis has seriously affected livelihoods in the said regions including the education of children and access to justice.
PAHRDN would like to express appreciation to organizations and human rights defenders for bringing added visibility to the case of hundreds of persons currently being detained in relation to the said crisis. And especially to Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho, a human rights defender who was formerly detained and released in relation to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon and who made this known during his intervention at the NGO Forum proceedings in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
The Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network calls on the Cameroonian Government to:
- Immediately end the ongoing gross and systematic violations of human rights in the Anglophone regions;
- Investigate the human rights causes of the crisis, including addressing systemic discrimination against the people of the Anglophone region;
- Take steps to allow access to those in detention and provide regular and accurate updates on their well-being and place of detention.
- Further calls for a peaceful resolution of the ongoing crisis in the English speaking regions of Cameroon through genuine dialogue and condemns all forms of violence.
- Urges the African Commission on Human and People’s’ Rights to take concrete measures in urging the Cameroonian authorities to comply with its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The PAHRDN is an umbrella Network composed of representatives of five sub-regional network Cairo Institute for Human Rights for Northern Africa, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, West Africa Human Rights Defenders Network, South African Human Rights Defenders Network (hosted by the International Commission of Jurists), and Central African Human Rights Defenders Network .