Sunday, January 23

Cameroon: European Parliament Considering Targeted Sanctions on Human Rights violators

By: Boris Esono Nwenfor

The European Parliament has called on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to consider adopting targeted sanctions towards those responsible for human rights violations, using the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime.

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 those who are seen to be the perpetrators of human rights violations (both government and separatist fighters have been accused of human rights violations) have been held responsible on the international scene.

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.

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“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.”

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Cameroon: European Parliament Considering Targeted Sanctions on Human Rights violators 1
Government force and separatist fighter have been accused of committing human rights violations 

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.

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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.

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