By Mua Patrick, February 22, 2017
Cameroon Journal,Yaounde – Amnesty International Tuesday, February 21, released its 2016/2017 on rights abuses in Cameroon.
Rights abuses reported in the report include amongst others, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, deaths in custody and enforced disappearances, suppression of freedoms of expression, association and assembly, unfair trials , harsh prison conditions, impunity, violation of rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people and non-respect of refugees’ and migrants’ rights.
Citing particular instances, the group said demonstrations in Anglophone regions from late October last year were violently repressed by security forces. Journalists, students, human rights defenders and members of opposition parties, the report states, were arrested and some faced trial before military courts.
“Protests erupted in several cities in the Southwest and Northwest of the country, including Bamenda, Kumba and Buea. Cameroon’s security forces arbitrarily arrested protesters and used excessive force to disperse them. In one example, on 8 December, the use of live bullets by security forces led to the death of between two and four people during a protest in the north western city of Bamenda,” the Amnesty International report read in part.
Security forces, the rights group said continued in 2016 to use “cordon and search” operations, leading to mass arrests.
“Dozens of men, women and children accused of supporting Boko Haram were tortured by members of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), an elite army unit, at the military base known as Salak, near Maroua, and by officers of the General Directorate of External Research (DGRE), an intelligence service, in premises in the capital, Yaoundé. Some of them died as a result of torture; others disappeared” said the Report
Armed group Boko Haram, the Amnesty International report said, in 2016 continued to commit serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the Far North region, including killing and abducting hundreds of civilians.
In response, they added, the authorities and security forces committed human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and enforced disappearances.
As a result of the conflict, more than 170,000 people have fled their homes since 2014, the report disclosed. Freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly continued to be restricted.
“Boko Haram committed crimes under international law and human rights abuses, including suicide bombings in civilian areas, summary executions, torture, hostage-taking, abductions, recruitment of child soldiers, looting and destruction of public, private and religious property. During the year, the group carried out at least 150 attacks, including 22 suicide bombings, killing at least 260 civilians,” said the report.
The Report said further that Boko Haram deliberately targeted civilians in attacks on markets, mosques, churches, schools and bus stations.
In January alone, the report revealed, at least nine suicide attacks killed more than 60 civilians.
“On 10 February in the town of Nguéchéwé, 60km from Maroua, two women suicide bombers attacked a funeral, killing at least nine civilians, including a child, and injuring more than 40 people. On 19 February, two women suicide bombers killed at least 24 civilians and injured 112 others in a crowded market in the village of Mémé, near Mora,” the report states.
Cameroon’s prison conditions, Amnesty International said, remained poor, marked by chronic overcrowding, inadequate food, limited medical care, and deplorable hygiene and sanitation.
Maroua prison housed around 1,400 detainees, more than three times its intended capacity. The population of the central prison in Yaoundé was approximately 4,000, despite a maximum capacity of 2,000.