Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights based at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, has called on the Secretary General of the United Nations to as a matter of urgency, appoint a mediator to seek solutions in the ongoing conflict in Cameroon.
The call was made Friday, February 17. The Centre also petitioned the UN Security Council, African Union, as well as the government of the Republic of South Africa that has mediated many African conflicts to hasten up before things get out of hands in Cameroon.
“The Centre for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, including reported arbitrary arrests, abductions, extra-judicial killings, involuntary disappearances, rape, torture and inhumane treatment of detainees, trial of civilians by military tribunals,” the report reads. The report which is coming out exactly one month following the shutdown of internet in Anglophone Cameroon by the government also highlights this aspect of human right abuse. It blames the government of Cameroon for not respecting its own constitution.
“By its actions and omissions, the government of Cameroon has failed to protect its citizens and as such stands in violation of the obligations imposed upon it by the Preamble to the Constitution of Cameroon which among others guarantees the right to life; freedom from torture; cruel and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment; right to liberty and security of person; right to fair hearing; freedom of expression; and freedom of association and assembly.” States the report.
The Centre also reminds the Cameroon government of its failure to implement the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) of 2009 which was filed by some Southern Cameroons activists. Following the Ngwang Gunme and 13 others v Cameroun case, the ACHPR held that the government of Cameroun had no justification to subject persons to inhumane treatment. It frowned at the trial of civilians in military tribunals which violates the African Charter and also recognizes the government’s marginalization of Anglophones.
The Centre also recalled the correspondence of the former Chairperson of the AU Commission, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, issued on January 18, 2017 which expressed regrets on the loss of lives and property and arbitrary arrests and detention of persons suspected of participating in demonstrations in Anglophone Cameroon, and called on the government of Cameroun to initiate dialogue with all persons concerned. Eight years after the Ngwang Gunme case and one month after the latter, none of the decisions and statements have been implemented by Cameroun.
After making an appraisal of the current situation, the NGO made a five point recommendation calling on the Secretary General of the UN, the Security Council, AU, and South Africa to put pressure on the government of Cameroun for a peaceful resolution of the conflict before it becomes a threat to international peace and security. It further requests the government of Cameroun to halt all ongoing military operations in Anglophone Cameroon, restore internet and desist from activities that worsens the human rights plight of Anglophones.
“The UN Secretary General and the UN Security Council….should prevail on the government of Cameroon to stop the military operations and engage in dialogue with the English-speaking citizens of the country. Given the long history of this problem and in order to ensure a peaceful and long term solution, the Centre suggests that the Secretary General of the UN, through the Special Representative to Central Africa, Mr. Francois Lounceny Fall, and the Security Council, in consultation with the AU, should appoint a special mediator to facilitate the negotiations for a permanent solution to the problems.”
More and more international institutions are expressing concerns about Cameroon government’s highhanded management of the current situation. Earlier on, the University of Notre Dame Law School where Agbor Balla studied voiced its concerns about about the situation in Cameroon. Cameroon government’s own Human Rights commission has been very critical of gov’t’s own abuses, and now the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria.
This Centre is one of the best citadels in matters of human rights in Africa. Moreover, its host university, University of Pretoria is the third best university in Africa following the 2017 classification. The Centre does not only train legal experts from all over the world, but an NGO that advises governments and organisations on matters of human rights. In 2012, the Centre was awarded the AU Human Rights Prize.