Building Good Governance and Counterterrorism Capacity in the Far North Region of Cameroon

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, May 16, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Opening Ceremony for the program

Building Good Governance and Counterterrorism Capacity in the Far North Region of Cameroon
Ecole Nationale d’Administration et de Magistrature
Monday, May 14, 2018

Minister of State, Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals, (Mr Laurent ESSO)
Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reform, (Mr. Joseph Anderson LE)
Minister Delegate at the Ministry of External Relations in charge of Cooperation with the Commonwealth, (Mr. Felix Mbayu)
Minister of Territorial Administration, (TBC) (Mr. Paul ATANGA NJI)
Minister of Defense,(TBC) (Mr. Joseph Beti ASSOMO)
Director General of National Security, (TBC) (Mr. Martin MBARGA NGUELE)
Director General of the NATIONAL SCHOOL OF ADMINISTRATION AND MAGISTRACY, (Mr. Linus Toussaint Mendjana)
Prosecutor General to the Supreme Court, (TBC) (Mr. Luc NDJODO)
Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to join you for the launch of this important initiative which proceeds from the shared belief that good governance and the rule of law are the foundation of the fight against terrorism.

This assembled group understands the link between civil liberties and security.

We are grateful to David Abouem a Tchoyi and Stephen White, the two gentlemen who will be leading the training orientation for this program.

Their rich experience in security sector reform and good governance will serve as important guides.

Over the next four days, you will be working together towards a common goal – to equip your colleagues in regions most affected by conflict with the knowledge and skills recognized as international best practices in countering terrorism.

The U.S. government is proud to support this initiative; it is funded through the State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.

It is a two-year project, begun in 2017 and running through October 2019.

The initiative will support ongoing efforts to develop Cameroon’s institutional capacity to train civilian government officials and law enforcement to meet the needs of communities vulnerable to terrorism and conflict.

Today, more countries than ever before have been impacted by the various manifestations of terrorism.

Countering this threat is a global effort requiring sustained commitment from us all – this includes the international, regional (in this case, the Lake Chad Basin Region), national, and sub-national leaders.

Effective counterterrorism measures and the protection of human rights and the rule of law are complementary and mutually reinforcing goals best achieved through a whole-of-society effort.

This initiative focuses on the Far North Region, where Boko Haram has exacted a heavy toll on the ethnically diverse and economically challenged border communities.

As we all know, the region has long suffered from a multitude of development deficits.

Nearly three quarters of the population lives below the poverty line, double the national average.

The region is home to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons and refugees from neighboring countries.

National, regional, and local authorities, security forces, and communities remain locked in a bitter struggle against the group.

Despite these challenges, Cameroon and its neighbors are steadily making military gains with the assistance of the Multinational Joint Task Force – and with help from the United States, which advises and assists Cameroonian forces, trains its forces, and provides intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support.

Just last week, we were proud to hand over two U.S.-built Cessna aircraft. France, and the United Kingdom are doing their parts as well, as is the World Bank, and the European Union, and others. You are not alone.

We know that degrading Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa is only part of the answer to sustained peace and development.

In its book the Journey to Extremism, the UN Development Programme notes that 71 percent of young men interviewed who had left violent extremist organizaitons said it was government action – the arrest or killing of a family member or friend – that had triggered their decision to join.

The rule of law based on a sense of fairness is a necessary condition if we want to address community concerns, build social resilience, and reduce underlying drivers of violence.

This is the very foundation of peace and security.

This foundation is built on respect for human rights, good governance, access to justice, transparency, and the rule of law.

Upholding this foundation requires a community of actors working in tandem toward a common goal.

The challenges are many.

For magistrates, cases relating to terrorism pose legal and procedural questions:
•How is evidence collected and the chain of custody maintained, for example, when the military is a first responder to a terrorist attack?
•How can the courts guarantee the right to a fair trial without undue delay?
•How are the rights of victims upheld, and the protection of witnesses secured?
•How can evidence derived from intelligence be admitted to a court while allowing law enforcement to protect its sources and methods?
•And how can the defendant’s right to the presumption of innocence be guaranteed when stigma is so burdensome for those merely accused – let alone convicted – of association with Boko Haram?

For administrators, the goal is to fulfill the obligations of civilian-led efforts to sustain and advance gains made over the last years.

It is widely accepted that a community-centered approach is critical to achieving long-term gains in peace, development, and security.
•At a local and a national level, administrators have to identify ways to address the drivers of violent extremism and promote community resilience.
•Sub-divisional and divisional authorities appointed by Yaoundé and for the most part coming from other regions of Cameroon must inform their decision-making by taking into account localized, community-level needs.
•Similarly, administrators need to incorporate the voices of marginalized groups, of women, and of youth. Remember that half of Cameroon’s population is under the age of 19.
•We know it is difficult, but authorities need to identify the most effective strategies to reintegrate defectors into their communities.

We hope this initiative will help lead to the development of best practices for administration, governance, and protection of human rights in terrorism-affected communities.

ENAM has a sterling reputation and a storied history of training judges and administrators: that’s why we chose this institution.

Together with ENAM, we will help lessen instances of radicalization caused by a sense of injustice and discrimination.

We look forward to deepening our engagement.

We look forward to a day when the peoples of the Lake Chad Basin Region can live together in peace and harmony, without fear.

Thank you.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Cameroon.

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