Security forces, separatist rebels and ethnic militiamen have committed “atrocities” in a troubled region in Cameroon, including executions, torture and rape, Amnesty International said on Tuesday.
Its report found new evidence of abuses in the country’s Northwest Region – one of two western regions where anglophone militants declared independence from the majority francophone state in 2017.
Their declaration, which has never been recognised internationally, triggered a crackdown by the government in Yaounde.
The new investigation sheds light on militias in the Northwest Region that are drawn from the Mbororo community — Fulani herders with a long history of conflict with sedentary farmers.
Civilians are “caught between the army, armed separatists and militias,” the report says.
“The Mbororo Fulani populations have been quickly targeted by armed separatists, in part because they are perceived as supporting the authorities in power,” it says.
“As the situation deteriorated, militias mainly composed of Mbororo Fulani, supported or tolerated by the authorities, have committed abuses against the population.”
The report also documents what it says are killings, rape and property destruction by the defence and security forces themselves.
“The government has announced the opening of investigations on human rights violations committed by armed forces’ elements,” it notes.
“However, for many cases, there has been no further information release, raising impunity concerns.
“Moreover, the authorities are attempting to silence human rights defenders, activists, lawyers, and the media speaking out against atrocities. Armed separatists also threaten those exposing their crimes.”
The group said it was concerned that Cameroon’s partners — including Belgium, Britain, Croatia, France, Israel, Russia and Serbia — were continuing to supply arms “which highly risk” being used by the various groups to commit crimes.
The conflict in the Northwest and neighbouring Southwest regions has claimed around 6,000 lives and forced more than a million from their homes, according to an estimate by the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.
Amnesty said the report was based on two missions in November 2022 and March 2023 in which its investigators spoke to more than 100 victims of crimes as well as journalists and human rights activists.
Requests to meet government ministers did not receive a reply, it said.
Source : africanews