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Monday, November 4, 2019

Yaoundé reacts to US threats to suspend Cameroon from AGOA

The United States has advised Cameroon to respect human rights so that it can be reinstated as a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), even though the Yaoundé authorities insist their innocence. 

US President Donald Trump ended on Thursday January 1 the preferential trade benefits of the Central African nation, citing what he called "persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights." 

Trump's decision 

In a letter to the US Congress, Trump said Cameroon had not responded to US concerns about extrajudicial executions, torture and other persistent human rights violations committed by Cameroonian security forces. 

"I take this step because I have determined that the Government of Cameroon is currently committing gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, in violation of the eligibility requirements of Article 104 of the the economic prospects in Africa), "writes Trump in his letter.

US Trade Representative CJ Mahoney said the US government remains deeply concerned about the human rights violations committed by the Cameroonian government against its own citizens. 

"This action underscores the Administration's commitment to respect human rights standards as required by the AGOA legislation," he said in a separate statement. 

Cameroon's government reacts Cameroon's 

Minister of Territorial Administration, Paul Atanga Nji, told reporters on Friday that the United States was targeting the wrong country, given the professional record and the conduct of the security forces. 

"Our defense and security forces are professional. So I think if we were to condemn, we should rather condemn the secessionists who behead the people in the northwestern and southwestern regions, "said the minister.

Several human rights groups and non-governmental organizations have repeatedly accused government security forces of gross violations of human rights, including the killing of civilians in English-speaking areas. 

Sixty-five civil society organizations this week called on the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to address serious and systematic violations of human rights in Cameroon. 

In a joint appeal, they said violence in the English-speaking areas of Cameroon had killed 3,000 people in the past three years, forcing half a million people to flee their homes and leaving more than 700,000 children out of school. 

And then? 

Mahoney urged the government of Cameroon to work with the United States and the international community to strengthen the protection of human rights under the law and to hold accountable those who engage in human rights abuses. 'man.

In order to qualify for preferential benefits under AGOA legislation, partner countries must meet certain eligibility requirements, including not to engage in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. 

They must also make steady progress in establishing the rule of law, political pluralism, the establishment of internationally recognized workers' rights, and the removal of barriers to US trade and investment. 

Cameroonian President Paul Biya, who has been president for nearly 40 years, seeks to calm the turmoil over last year's disputed presidential election and separatist insurgency. 

A national dialogue held last month to resolve the Anglophone crisis has yet to produce tangible results, despite recommendations to create a "special status" for the North West and South West regions.