Former Deputy Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Barrister Bernard Acho Muna has said that a group of lawyers are currently compiling a dossier to be deposited at either the International Criminal Court, ICC, the International Criminal Court of Justice, ICJ or the United Nations, UN, to sue perpetrators of crimes considered to be acts of genocide committed during the ongoing crisis in the two English-speaking Regions of the country.
Revealing the move at a press briefing in Yaounde Wednesday, Muna who is also former head of the Cameroon Bar Association said, after examining evidence collected from the two troubled Regions, the group of lawyers most of whom are foreigners have disclosed that there is evidence of acts of genocide being committed amidst the ongoing crisis.
“What I am saying is that as a Cameroonian and somebody who has prosecuted people committing genocide in Rwanda, I am aware of the gravity of genocide. And as a Cameroonian, it has not been easy for me to handle such a situation. And so, what I decided to do, in view of the evidence that we have, is to call upon the assistance of legal advisers who were Barristers in London and some of them I worked with in Rwanda,” Barrister Muna told reporters Wednesday.
He said, because he cannot handle the issue, given that it concerns his own country, he contacted one Barrister Karim Khan, a renowned legal mind in London to take charge of the task.
“So I told him to constitute some people and examine the evidence that I have collected. Because it involves my country and part from which I come, I decided to not be part of it because I may be emotional about it,” Muna said.
“Few days ago, they (lawyers in London) informed me that the evidence they have shows clearly that there is genocide that is being committed in the North West and South West.”
Questioned on the wide assumption that genocide is generally understood to be limited to mass killing of individuals from a particular group, Muna quickly clarified, “People think that genocide is only about killings. But the elimination of a people, may be their culture and so on is part of genocide.”
He said Article 2 of the genocide convention, defines genocide as any crime committed with the intent to destroy in whole or part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such.
He said it could include their way of life and such acts can constitute killing the members of the group, causing serious mental harm to the members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the whole or part of the group.
Also during the Wednesday media outing, Muna said, in the course of the ongoing crimes, collective punishment has also been committed. He explained that “there is also a crime called collective punishment. The Geneva Convention of 1949 forbids collective punishment. This punishment comes about when some people in a group commit a crime and everybody is punished because of that wrongdoing.”
The Geneva Convention, which Cameroon has ratified, he said prohibits collective punishment.
Using the case of internet shut down in the Anglophone Regions, Barrister Muna stated that such collective punishment is unacceptable.
“The shutting down of internet in the North West and South West Regions is a collective punishment. There are many Francophones and even foreigners in Limbe, Kumba, Buea, Bamenda and other areas who may not be sympathetic with the Anglophone problem, but they are also being punished,” he stated.