The United States lashes out at the Cameroun government again; this time calling out the regime in an unprecedented manner to stop with immediate effect all acts of aggression and human rights abuses on West Cameroonians. But are words alone enough, especially when the same US continue to supply resources and train elements of the Cameroon military that could be redeployed to cause havoc in West Cameroon?
Just two weeks after the United States Ambassador to Cameroon Peter Barlerin accused the Cameroon government and military of targeted killings, abductions and other heinous human rights abuses, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley during a session at the United Nations security council yesterday 1 June 2018, stated that the United states remained concerned by credible information of human rights violations by Cameroon security forces and called on the Cameroon government not to only stop such violations with immediate effect, but to also take steps to investigate this allegations of abuses by the military forces and hold those responsible to account.
Nikki Haley also stated that the United States is concerned by reports of intimidation and harassment of members of the civil society and journalists across West Cameroon as well as the restrictions on the rights of peaceful assembly and the freedom of association and expression. The Ambassador called on the Cameroon government to respect the rights of every Cameroonian, especially the rights of the 47 Anglophone leaders who were abducted in Nigeria and forcefully handed over to the Cameroun regime, in gross violation of all international laws.
The Ambassador also called on the Cameroon regime to respect the rights of these individuals in accordance to all national and international laws. Note the Yaoundé regime has grossly violated the rights of these individuals ever since they were arrested in January, by the simple fact that they are refused access to their lawyers and family members. To avoid any ambiguity, the Ambassador went further to reiterate and stress in point form what exactly they were demanding from the Yaoundé regime, i.e
1. Acknowledge and investigate allegations of human rights violations and abuses and hold those responsible to account
2. Respect the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association and expression including when exercised online and afford to all those detained all the rights enshrined in the Cameroon constitution and international law.
Though one would wonder what good could possibly come out from an investigation of this sort single handedly conducted by a regime that is itself the architect of the crimes, it suffices to say the United States is merely following procedure, and making a case for any possible eventuality.
If the Yaoundé regime ever thought it was under any sort of pressure, the UN outing by Nikki Haley may have just sent the much needed strong signal that it shall not be business as usual. This goes a long way to confirm that the statement by the US ambassador in Yaoundé some two weeks ago was an official US position on the current crisis. We hope he doesn’t get summon again on his return to Cameroon following Nikki Haley’s outing.
There’s every reason for members of Cameroon’s regime to be worried about the prospects of being prosecuted for crimes against humanity at some point in the future by the ICC, giving the mounting evidence of war crimes. They really should be asking themselves some very serious questions about their future and legacy, especially after this regime falls, because the end is inevitable. I am not saying or suggesting any form of regime change by any external party, but rather saying if Cameroonians ever succeed to take back power into their hands, all those guilty of the crimes being committed today and yesterday shall answer for them.
Despite the tough language being used, the United States need to be more clear on their policy vis-à-vis the continuous support of some of Cameroun’s military units in the fight against Boko Haram, as there is every reason to believe that some of the units trained by the US Army are being redeployed by the Cameroon government to fight in West Cameroon, in violation of the MoU signed between the two countries.
Will the United States genuinely stand firm in support and the protection of human rights, pressure the regime onto the negotiation table or continue to play from a safe distance with mere rhetoric that have no impact on a dictatorial regime? If they opt for the latter, then that will be giving the regime a license to continue committing war crimes with impunity.
© Eric Acha