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African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Release on the human rights situation in Cameroon

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Commission) is closely following developments in the human rights situation in Cameroon, a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter), and is deeply concerned about the serious ongoing human rights violations in the country, in particular in the two English-speaking regions.

Since October 2016, the human rights situation in the Republic of Cameroon has continued to worsen following brutal crackdowns on legitimate and peaceful protests by lawyers, teachers and members of civil society of the English-speaking regions of North-West and South-West, who called for the preservation of the Anglophone legal and educational systems in their regions, an end to marginalisation, and for better management of the regions by the State in terms of development and infrastructure.

The Commission is particularly concerned about the deployment of soldiers in these regions, the disproportionate use of force against unarmed civilians, and the intermittent shutdown of means of communication such as Internet connection.

The Commission is deeply concerned about reports of cases of enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention under deplorable conditions, prohibition of peaceful demonstrations, and constant insecurity leading to the displacement of more than 5,000 Anglophone Cameroonians to Nigeria since the beginning of the crisis without means of subsistence and access to basic necessities.

The Commission strongly condemns the ongoing violence and human rights violations in Cameroon, in particular the militarisation of the English-speaking regions and the disproportionate use of force against the population.

The Commission would like to remind the Cameroonian authorities that the right to participate in the government of one’s country (Article 13), to dispose of and to benefit from the wealth and natural resources (Article 21), and the right to education (Article17), peace and security (Article 23) are rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Cameroon is a party.

The Commission underscores that the right to peaceful assembly and demonstration is guaranteed under Article 11, and that all Cameroonian citizens have to be treated equally without any discrimination (Article 2).

While deploring the radicalisation of the conflict following protests in the English-speaking regions, that are now calling for secession from Cameroon, the Commission calls upon the various parties to engage in dialogue towards saving lives and restoring calm, security and peace as soon as possible.

The Commission calls upon the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to fulfil its obligation to protect, and to:

  1. Put an immediate end to the use of force against unarmed civilians;
  2. Ensure respect for the right to freedom of expression and information, freedom of association and assembly, and the right to liberty and security of the person enshrined in the Charter;
  3. Ensure the immediate release of all persons arbitrarily detained since October 2016 following the protests;
  4. Conduct impartial and independent investigations into allegations of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, inhuman and degrading treatment, and human rights violations reported to have been committed by police, gendarmerie and military officers;
  5. Initiate constructive dialogue without delay, towards putting an end to the suffering of the population.

The Commission further calls upon countries of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) and the African Union to play an active role in resolving the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, towards preserving peace and stability in Cameroon and preventing the loss of innocent lives.