Cameroon security forces have been cited as engaging in significant human rights abuse in respect of armed combat they are engaged in across three regions of the country, a United States government report has said.
The Central African nation is beset by Boko Haram insurgency in its Far North region whiles the Anglophone crisis continues to pose a security challenge to the government in the Northwest and Southwest i.e. Anglophone regions.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2017, the military, police and gendarmerie – paramilitary – forces were using among others arbitrary killings, forced disappearances and prolonged military / unofficial detentions in the three regions.
In its Executive Summary relating to the country, the report said: “The most significant human rights issues included: arbitrary and unlawful killings through excessive use of force by security forces; disappearances by security forces and Boko Haram.”
It went on to mention: “torture and abuse by security forces including in military and unofficial detention facilities; prolonged arbitrary detentions including of suspected Boko Haram supporters and individuals in the Anglophone regions.”
Then there was the issue of “harsh and life threatening prison conditions; violations of freedoms of expression and assembly; periodic government restrictions on access to the internet; trafficking in persons; criminalization and arrest of individuals engaged in consensual same-sex sexual conduct; and violations of workers’ rights.”
The government has deployed a military unit the BIR, which continues to engage with Boko Haram insurgents in the Far North region. Communities in the region have been attacked mostly by suicide bombers and raids by the group.
Over in the Anglophone region, guerilla style attacks on security forces by suspected separatists under the so-called Ambazonia republic banner has led to the formation of a new military unit headquartered in the capital of the northwest region, Bamenda.
There has been a sustained call for dialogue to solve the crisis even though the government has insisted that it will only engage with persons with the unity of the nation at heart.
Separatists have killed over 20 security forces, locals have fled their homes for fear of being caught in the cross fire with thousands now seeking asylum in neighbouring Nigeria.