By Amos Fofung
Some sixty-five advocacy organizations in Africa, Europe and North America have joined forces, calling on the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR to address serious and systematic human rights violations in Cameroon, including the jailing of journalists.
In an open letter to the commission, the signatories including; Action des Chrétiens pour l’abolition de la Torture (ACAT France), Action des Chrétiens pour l’abolition de la Torture au Tchad (ACAT Tchad), Action des Chrétiens pour l’abolition de la Torture (ACAT Burundi), Africa Heights Foundation, Africa International Criminal Justice Network, Réseau Ouest Africain des DDH, Shalupe Foundation DRC, SOS Torture/Burundi, Southern Africa HRDs Network, Sudan Coalition for the ICC, The Kenyan Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya) , Un Monde Avenir, Victims’ Support Initiative (VSI) noted that over the past three years, “violence in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions has led to 3,000 deaths, forced half a million people to flee their homes, and left over 700,000 children out of school.”
The signatories said that the commission should make accountability for human rights violations a priority of its strategy and intervention in Cameroon.
In the open letter addressed to H.E Solomon Dersso, Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Right and copied to; Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Chairman of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union Commission the coalition expressed “deep concern about the lack of discussions on serious human rights abuses during the dialogue.”
“The final report of the dialogue did not include any language or recommendations on abuse and accountability for serious crimes committed by government forces and armed separatists, their open letter read.
Referencing article 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which foresees the Commission referring cases of serious human rights violations to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, the signatory organizations urged the AU to;
- Refer serious and systematic human rights violations in Cameroon to the next Assembly of Heads of State and Governments scheduled to take place 30 and 31 January 2020;
- Provide a briefing to the Peace and Security Council;
- Establish and carry out a fact-finding mission into all allegations of human rights abuses committed in the Anglophone regions since late 2016 and recommend future steps to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice;
- Call upon the African Union to create the position of a special envoy on Cameroon who reports directly to the African Union Peace and Security Council. Beyond acting as a liaison between the Cameroonian government and the African Union, this envoy should inquire into and rapidly report on civilian protection needs and challenges.