6 January, 2020
Joint letter to the Security Council on the situation of human rights defenders in Cameroon
The Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa, headquartered in Douala-Cameroon and which covers 8 Central African countries and Front Line Defenders headquartered in Dublin, both the organizations in charge of protection and the security of Human Rights Defenders seize your illustrious organization to urge you to take the appropriate measures for the protection and security of defenders in Cameroon in general, and defenders of the North West and South West regions, in particular.
Since October 2016, Cameroon has been experiencing an unprecedented socio-political crisis, which began with the strike of English-speaking lawyers (for the translation into English of OHADA texts) (Bamenda, North West), followed by the strike of English-speaking teachers and students of the University of Buea (South West); follow-up of the creation of the Consortium of English-speaking civil society and establishment of a dialogue by the state and the consortium, dialogue which will be quickly interrupted by the government:
October 1, 2017: attempt to proclaim secession by the Ambazonians, there have been 100 people shot dead by the security forces, and since that date, the socio-political crisis has gained momentum in armed conflicts between the radicalized separatists and the Cameroonian government via the security and defense forces.
In general, the situation of human rights, fundamental freedoms as well as the protection and security of defenders in Cameroon remains very worrying although we can welcome the brief political will of President Paul Biya in the search for solutions. This resulted in the convening of the Grand National Dialogue on September 30, 2019 although it did not reflect the inclusive nature that everyone expected, the release of 333 activists on October 3, 2019, and the continuation of the prosecution certai n leaders and activists of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC), an opposition party, in particular Pr. Kamto, candidate and 2nd in the presidential election of 2018.
Beyond the numerous abuses and serious human rights violations observed in this conflict and perpetrated by the two parties to the conflicts, the proliferation of armed groups and small and large caliber weapons should be noted. What concerns us most remains numerous arbitrary arrests and detentions. More than 1,000 files of activists remain pending before the military court, which is not intended to try civilians. In addition to arrests and detentions, human rights defenders pay the heavy price, enforced disappearances, death threats, targeted assassinations, physical assaults and sexual touching, attacks on private property, spinning, forced exile. Read the full statement below: