A group of United Nations human rights experts has called on Cameroon’s government to end renewed violence in the country’s Anglophone regions and guard against ongoing human rights violations.
The experts on a range of human rights issues – peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions and executions – said they are disturbed by reports coming from the country’s northwest and southwest regions. The troubled Anglophone regions have seen protests and general strikes for more than a year, as President Paul Biya’s government responded with arrests and crackdowns.
Up to 17 people have died, with dozens wounded and arrested in demonstrations in the country’s Anglophone regions since October 1, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) team said.
“The experts are disturbed by reports of a series of measures taken by the national authorities, including curfews, a ban on public meetings, and other restrictions aimed at preventing peaceful protests,” the report said. “Excessive use of force by the security services, injuries, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill-treatment have also been reported.”
Restrictions on Internet connections and social media must stop, and “the government must ensure a thorough, impartial and independent investigation into all allegations of human rights violations” since the escalation last month.
The UN statement comes amid a new crisis, as officials in Cameroon investigate the cause of a blaze late Thursday that destroyed four upper floors of the parliament building in Yaounde just as this month’s new session was beginning. Damage included all offices of the Social Democratic Front, Cameroon’s main opposition party. The National Assembly fire was accidental, according to preliminary reports, but there are alternative claims circulating that say the fire was caused by neglect or intentionally started.
Image: Contra Nocendi file