The body recommends a UN Human Rights Council Fact-Finding Mission to determine the degree to which international human rights law and international humanitarian law have been violated
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The European Parliament has recommended that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) formally add the situation in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions to its agenda and that “the UN Secretary-General provide a briefing on the situation without further delay.”
This is one of thirteen (13) decisions taken by the European Parliament on November 23, 2021, titled European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Cameroon. Should this be implemented, it will be the first time that the UNSC had the Anglophone crisis on its agenda, after repeated calls from many.
The motion for a resolution with the request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law pursuant to Rule 114 of the Rules of Procedure on the human rights situation in Cameroon was made by Barry Andrews, Petras Auštrevičius, Dita Charanzová, Olivier Chastel, Bernard Guetta, Irena Joveva, Ilhan Kyuchyuk, Karen Melchior, Frédérique Ries, Michal Šimečka, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Ramona Strugariu, Dragoş Tudorache, Hilde Vautmans on behalf of the Renew Group.
“Urges President Paul Biya’s government and the Anglophone separatists to initiate, without further ado, peace talks to avoid a further dramatic escalation of the humanitarian situation in Cameroon and to put an end to the human rights violations this conflict has prompted; calls on both sides of the conflict to cease staging reprisal attacks against one another, which purposefully target civilians suspected of affiliation with either government or separatist forces,” the resolution from the European Parliament read in part.
The ongoing conflict in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon has internally displaced over 1 million people and according to the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) report on Cameroon of 5 October 2021, over 2.2 million people are requiring humanitarian assistance and over 66,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
On this matter, the European Parliament said: “… all parties to the conflict immediately provide unfettered humanitarian access, given that 2.2 million people are now in humanitarian need and stresses that humanitarian assistance currently provides life-saving support and protection to large portions of the population, including refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic; deplores, therefore, the fact that over 40,000 people were denied food assistance due to insecurity and roadblocks in the North-West and the South-West regions, as well the recent attacks on health facilities and the fact that humanitarian activities were banned under lockdown.”
The crisis has had a disproportionate impact on children, with 700,000 students having been deprived of their right to education due to a forced school boycott across the Anglophone Regions and, according to OCHA, teachers and students have been attacked, kidnapped, threatened, and killed in the Anglophone Regions.
The European Parliament has further urged the African Union, Central African States, United Nations and the European Union to exert pressure on the Cameroon authorities to put an end to the violence, enable humanitarian access, and develop and apply a sustainable, peaceful and democratic solution to the ongoing crisis.
The body has also recommended that the UN Security Council formally add the situation in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions to its agenda and that the UN Secretary-General provide a briefing on the situation without further delay
Other resolutions from the European Parliament
Condemns the arbitrary arrests of political opponents and peaceful protesters, independent press and other civilians, and deplores the use of a military tribunal to try civilians, which violates international law; is concerned by serious procedural irregularities, including depriving the accused of their right to challenge the evidence against them and to present evidence in their defence; deplores the use of torture against any person by any party to the conflict;
Calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop railroading people into a sham trial before a military tribunal, with a predetermined outcome, capped with the imposition of the death penalty, which is unlawful under international human rights law;
Insists that the Cameroonian authorities ensure that victims of the ongoing conflict have the right to an independent, fair and effective investigation into their case and that those responsible for human rights violations and abuses be brought to justice in a fair trial; stresses that facilitating corrupt trials amounts to impunity;
Calls on the Cameroon government to, without further delay, ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the death penalty and to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; calls upon the Government to, in the meantime, put an end to impunity and ensure absolute judicial independence, which are core components of the rule of law and the foundation of a functioning democratic state;
Deplores the attacks against teachers and students across the Anglophone Regions in Cameroon; urges separatists to cease immediately all attacks against schools and to end the forced education boycotting, allowing the safe return to school of all students and teachers; implores the Cameroon authorities to prioritize the rights and safety of children above any other political motive; condemns the instrumentalization of children and communities during attacks which lead to killings, rape, looting and abduction by terrorist organizations such as Boko Haram;
Condemns the excessive use and abuse of force against political opponents, and peaceful protestors; deplores the abuse of lockdown measures, such as curfews or banning public meetings, under the veil of the COVID-19 pandemic to constrain freedom of expression, the press and the right to peaceful assembly;
Expresses concern at the status of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Cameroon; deplores the arbitrary arrest and harassment of journalists and opposition politicians and the silencing of political dissent; calls on the government of Cameroon to promote and ensure the protection of the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to protest; calls for the strengthening of an inclusive democratic dialogue between all stakeholders and political players throughout all regions of Cameroon;
Condemns the attacks against humanitarian workers, including their abduction, harassment and murder in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon and, equally, condemns the escalating intimidation towards independent monitors and human rights defenders, especially women rights defenders, whose work is more important than ever in the context of serious human rights violations by all parties to this conflict…