“Amnesty International today released a [52-page] report on the alarming human rights situation in Cameroon, accusing the government of gross violations spanning more than ten years – including killings and torture. The catalogue of abuses revealed in the report mainly involves repression of political dissent.”
For more than 10 years, Amnesty International has received reports of human rights violations that were ordered, condoned or perpetrated by the Cameroonian authorities in contravention of their national and international human rights obligations. These violations include: arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions; extrajudicial executions; threats against and ill-treatment of human rights defenders and journalists; denial of the rights to freedom of expression and association; harsh prison conditions; torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; failure to protect the human rights of women and girls; and persecution of men and women on the grounds of their actual or imputed sexual orientation. This report provides examples of these violations, for which the perpetrators have enjoyed almost total impunity. Amnesty International is also concerned that, despite a global trend towards abolition of the death penalty, the Cameroonian government continues to impose death sentences.
Amnesty International has obtained the information contained in this report from secondary sources, particularly from human rights activists and relatives or friends of victims of human rights violations. Although the organization has done its utmost to cross-check the information with a number of sources, within and outside the country, Amnesty International believes that it would be better able to check its accuracy by regular visits to Cameroon. As in other countries around the world to which the organization has access, such visits would enable Amnesty International to build a wider base of contacts (including government authorities) with whom to exchange information and discuss recommendations for the protection and promotion of human rights in the country.
This report is not an exhaustive account of human rights violations that have occurred in Cameroon, and it covers only those parts of the country where Amnesty International has trusted contacts. This is merely a snapshot of the human rights situation in Cameroon over the past five years. For more than 10 years now, Amnesty International has sought the consent of the Cameroonian government for researchers to visit the country and verify for themselves allegations of human rights violations. The organization also wished to discuss with the authorities its concerns and recommendations for the promotion and protection of human rights in Cameroon. Amnesty International is concerned that, on
2 Cameroon: Impunity underpins persistent abuse each occasion, the authorities have either failed to give or inexplicably withdrawn their consent and thus prevented the organization from finding out and assessing the true extent and gravity of human rights violations in Cameroon.
Amnesty International is publishing this report in order to inform the international community of its human rights concerns in Cameroon and the continuing failure of the government to protect ordinary people from human rights abuses. The report also seeks to appeal to the Cameroonian authorities to take all necessary political and legal measures, as well as to provide resources to promote and protect
human rights, including by bringing an end to the widespread and persistent impunity enjoyed by the security forces and government officials.
The promotion and protection of human rights is likely to be crucial in the months leading up to the 2011 general elections in Cameroon. A number of the human rights violations documented in this report have been linked to a government strategy of stifling criticism and effective opposition. One of the most serious manifestations of this strategy was a violent repression of demonstrations against price rises in February 2008, and the amendment of the Constitution1 to enable President Paul Biya
to be eligible to stand as a presidential candidate at the next election.
In addition to ordering and condoning the use of lethal force against unarmed civilians by the security forces, the government also used the criminal justice system to punish its opponents. As the economic situation deteriorates around the world, and with the likelihood of opposition groups organizing further protests against the government and the ruling party, Amnesty International is concerned that the use of lethal force and abuse of the criminal justice system against government opponents may escalate. The organization is appealing to the international community to put pressure on the government to allow all Cameroonians who do not use or advocate violence to enjoy their right to freedom of expression and association.
Photo: Theophile Nono, member of the Association for the defense of citizens’ interests (ACDIC), after being beaten by police during a demonstration against corruption and embezzlement. (c) Edouard Tamba.Get 10 Free International Minutes - PINLESS