HRC41: AfricanDefenders and DefendDefenders’ joint statement

Mr. President, Madam High Commissioner,

DefendDefenders salutes your approach to preventative engagement, which was clearly ex­p­res­sed in, among other statements, the address you delivered at the end of your mis­sion to Cameroon, on 6 May 2019. A range of tools should be used to address country situ­a­tions, and we stress that bilateral engagement and expressions of concern in multi­lateral fora are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually reinforcing.

We and AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network) are deeply con­cer­ned by the Cameroonian government’s lack of political will to adequately respond to the gross and systematic violations of human rights in the Far North, North-West, and South-West regions. This situation has led to the proliferation of armed groups com­mit­ting abuses against civilians, religious, tradi­tio­nal, and administrative authorities, and causing a massive flow of refugees and internally displaced persons, including human rights defen­ders (HRDs). We are concerned by the fact that State organs act with impunity, arbitrarily ar­res­t­ing and de­taining people in violation of due process gua­rantees and systematically vio­la­ting rights.

This Council should step up to address the crisis and prevent further violations. We urge au­tho­­rities to drop the charges brought against activists and arrested protesters, including mem­­­bers of the Mouvement pour la Renaissance du Cameroun (MRC) and immediately and un­con­­di­tionally release them. We further call for the establishment of an international inves­ti­ga­tion into the human rights situation in the country.

We will address Sudan under other agenda items. However, stressing that no time should be lost, we urge the Council to immediately convene an urgent debate with a view to adopting a resolution setting up an inquiry into the atrocities that have been and are being committed by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and military and security forces. Perpetrators should be identified and held to account.

Thank you for your attention.