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Thursday, November 7, 2019

Chouta case: 65 International organizations present complaints against Biya to the AU


                           Paul Chouta 

Not less than 65 civil society organizations including the Committee for the Protection of Journalists abbreviated CPJ call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) to tackle serious and systematic violations of human rights in Cameroon, including the imprisonment of journalists. 

In a letter to the commission, CPJ and other signatories indicated that over the past three years, violence in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon had killed 3,000 people, forced half a million people to flee their homes and left more than 700,000 children out of school. 

Several journalists are behind bars, according to CPJ research. These include Paul Chouta, Mancho Bibixy, Tsi Conrad, Thomas Awah Junior, Amadou Vamoulke, Wawa Jackson Nfor, and Samuel Wazizi, who have not been heard from since being detained by army on August 2nd. 

The signatories stated that the commission should make the responsibility for human rights violations a priority of its strategy and its intervention in Cameroon. 

READ THE FOLLOWING LETTER 

Open Letter urging the ACHPR to address serious and systematic violations of human rights in Cameroon. 

HE Solomon Dersso, President of the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights 

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President of the African Union 

Moussa Faki Mahamat, President of the African Union Commission 

Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union 

We, a coalition of 65 organizations, write in your capacity as Chairman of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Commission), to encourage you to respond urgently to the deterioration of the human rights situation in Cameroon. 

For the last three years, Cameroon's English-speaking regions have been plunged into a cycle of violence that has claimed the lives of 3,000 people, forced half a million people to flee their homes and caused more than 700,000 children to drop out of school. 

The crisis in the northwestern and southwestern regions began in late 2016 when teachers, lawyers, students and activists complained about the perceived marginalization of their regions by the central government. They took to the streets demanding greater recognition of their political, social and cultural rights. The brutal reaction of government forces, which killed peaceful protesters, arrested leaders and journalists, banned civil society groups and blocked the Internet, exacerbated the crisis. Since then, many separatist groups have emerged, calling for the independence of the English-speaking regions and embracing the armed struggle. 

Government forces and armed separatists are both responsible for serious human rights violations. Security forces killed civilians, burned dozens of villages, arbitrarily arrested and tortured hundreds of suspected armed separatists. Armed separatists have also targeted civilians, kidnapped hundreds of people, tortured and killed suspected opponents, while resorting to intimidation and violence to prevent children and their teachers from returning to school. 

At its 62nd Ordinary Session, held from 25 April to 9 May 2018, the Commission adopted Resolution 395 (LXII) 2018, condemning the human rights violations committed in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon since October 2016, and calling conducting impartial and independent investigations to bring perpetrators to justice. 

On September 10, 2019, in the face of rising violence and sustained international pressure, President Paul Biya called for a national dialogue to deal with the Anglophone crisis. The dialogue ended on October 4 with several recommendations, including the adoption of a special status for the two English-speaking regions. President Biya has also decided to abandon all charges against hundreds of people arrested in connection with unrest in the northwest and southwest, as well as against political opponents, including the leader of the Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon. (MRC) Maurice Kamto, a political prisoner. 

The undersigned organizations welcome the release of hundreds of political actors and other detainees in Cameroon, and demand that imprisoned journalists and other activists be released as well. We are deeply concerned at the lack of discussion of serious human rights violations during the dialogue. The final dialogue report does not contain any wording or recommendations on abuses and accountability for serious crimes committed by government forces and armed separatists. None of the commissions established in the framework of the national dialogue had the mandate to examine human rights issues and no prior consultation with victims of human rights violations in English-speaking areas. 

Cameroon, a member of the African Union since 1963, is a party to important regional instruments, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples 'Rights, which sets out Member States' obligations with regard to respect, protection and realization of human rights.

In accordance with Article 58 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, which provides that the Commission shall refer cases of serious human rights violations to the Conference of Heads of State and Government, we you call on the Commission to: 

Refer serious and systematic violations of human rights in Cameroon to the next Assembly of Heads of State and Government to be held on 30 and 31 January 2020; 

Briefing at the Peace and Security Council; 

Establish and conduct a fact-finding mission on all allegations of human rights violations in English-speaking areas since the end of 2016 and recommend measures to bring perpetrators of such acts to justice; 

Call on the African Union to create the post of Special Envoy for Cameroon, which reports directly to the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. In addition to serving as a liaison between the Cameroonian government and the African Union, this envoy should investigate and quickly report on the needs and challenges of protecting civilians. 

The Commission has recommended and conducted fact-finding missions in similar situations and its decisions have established important principles that could be applied in Cameroon. 

As the search for a lasting solution to the crisis in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon continues, the Commission should make the responsibility for human rights violations a priority in its strategy and intervention. This is an important sign of the Commission's commitment to justice and accountability in cases of violation of human rights standards. 

Please accept, Mr. President, our best regards. 

Action of the Christians for the abolition of Torture (ACAT France) 

Action of the Christians for the abolition of Torture in Chad (ACAT Chad) 

Action of the Christians for the abolition of Torture (ACAT Burundi) 

Africa Heights Foundation 

Africa International Criminal Justice Network 

(ACJPS) 

African Youth Initiative Network (AYINET) 

Amnesty International 

Association for Integral Development and Interactive Solidarity (ADISI-Cameroon) 

Association for Koranic Education and Protection of Children mouhadjirine (AECPEM) Chad 

Cameroon Women's Peace Movement (CAWOPEM)

Center for Human Rights, University of Pretoria Human Rights 

Documentation and Training Center (CDFDH-Togo) 

Center for the Development of People (CEDEP) Malawi 

Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) 

Center for Human Rights and Rehabilitation Malawi 

Solidarity Educators Circle of Maroua Neighborhoods (CESOQUAR) 

Social Change Benin 

Chapter Four Uganda 

Cleen Foundation 

Burkinabe Coalition of HRDs 

Ivorian Coalition of HRDs 

Malian Coalition for the ICC 

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI )

Concerned Nigerians 

Confederation of Organizations of Victims of the Ivorian Crisis 

Consortium of Ethiopian Human Rights Organizations (CEHRO) 

Defend Defenders 

Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI)

FORSC-Forum for Strengthening Civil Society Burundi 

Freedom of Expression Hub (FOE-HUB) 

Girl Child Africa, Nigeria 

Human Rights Agenda Network 

Human Rights Defenders Network Sierra Leone 

Human Rights Institute of South Africa 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) 

Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) 

Institute for Security Studies 

International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) 

Justice Access Point Uganda 

Justice and Peace Bamenda 

Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) 

Kenya Coalition for HRDs 

Lawyers Alert 

Tunisian League for Human Rights man 

Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP) 

The Congo Friends of Law Club (CAD) 

Network for Solidarity, Empowerment and Transformation for All (NewSETA)

North African Youth Initiative for Development (NEYIF) 

Nigerian Coalition for the ICC 

New Human Rights - Cameroon (NDH Cameroon) 

Pan African Human Rights Defenders Network 

African Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) 

POS Foundation 

African Meeting for the Defense of Human Rights 'Human (RADDHO) Senegal 

Network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC) 

Citizen Dynamics 

Network West African Network of HRDs 

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) 

A Future World 

Victims' Support Initiative (VSI)


Source: Cpj.org