By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, has called on the Delegate General for National Security to ensure police officers and military personnel are prosecuted for assaulted suspects in their custody.
The recent communique from CHRDA came after a video was circulated online with police officers torturing one of their suspects. This is just a handful of the inhumane and degrading acts that have been committed by security forces on suspects who are at the mercy of the former.
On September 16, 2021, an amateur video shows some five policemen severely beating a group of young men, using the flat side of a machete on the sole of their feet during a police investigation for an alleged act of theft.
“We call on the state authorities to promptly and impartially investigate all allegations of torture which have been documented and reported by VCHRDA and other credible human rights organizations and media outlets being committed by security agents and the military against suspects in custody, and not just those caught on camera, establish responsibility and punished the perpetrators appropriately through judicial prosecution and also take steps to compensate victims of such incidents,” CHRDA said in a communique sent to Pan African Visions.
“We condemn the impunity with which the police and the military act and commit acts of torture or inhumane and degrading treatment against suspects held in custody and state authorities only react when it is caught on Camera.”
The Delegate General Martin Mbarga Nguelle did confirm the facts and said it took place at the 18th District Police Station in Yaounde and that judicial sanctions have been taken against the five police officers: Aroh Andre Anatole, 1st-grade assistant superintendent of police; Kweyo David, 2nd-grade police inspector; Kolwe Patrick, Senior Police Constable; Ngo Kouya Marguerite, 2nd-grade police constable and Ndjea Foaleng Jean Marie, 1st-grade police constable.
CHRDA went on to highlight some of the cases where suspects have fallen prey to police officers. The cases of Jean Fai Fungong and Ibrahim Bello are highly illustrative of this, according to CHRDA. Jean Fai Fungong was assaulted and severely tortured during an investigation on 11 February 2021 in Ndu in Donga-Mantung Division of the Northwest Region, by two (2) Gendarmes, two (2) Soldiers and Four (4) Police officers who were caught on camera and later detained at the Ndu territorial Gendarmerie Brigade according to a government statement, and no news has been heard about their trial since February 2021.
Within the context of the Anglophone Crisis, CHRDA as well as Human Rights Watch and other international NGOs have reported cases of routine torture being committed by security forces against individuals accused of being or supporting secessionist groups in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country. Many individuals including civil society leaders, journalists, lawyers and political leaders were held incommunicado by the regular army and by members of the rapid intervention battalion in makeshift camps and unofficial detention centres which could only be described as torture chambers, such as Military Intelligence Service, (SEMIL), Military Intelligence Center (CRM) at the MINDEF Headquarters, Secretariat for State for Defense in charge of the National Gendarmerie (SED), the 21st Motorized Infantry Battalion in Buea, The Makeshift Camp in Tole operated by the BIR in Buea or the centre operated by the Directorate General of External Research (DGRE), known as DGRE Lac, the Gendarmerie Brigade in Mamfe etc.
Suspects who came out of these places narrated stories of torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and some said they were beaten with just any object that could be found in the cell such as machetes, batons, cables and suffocation with water to force confessions. Allegations that have been vehemently denied by the government and trying to justify the use of torture in every circumstance.