New United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has expressed worry over the worsening security situation in Cameroon’s Anglophone region.
Bachelet intimated that the situation required urgent attention even though Yaounde had failed to take the lead in ensuring a resolution to the crisis.
She spoke about the economic, social and educational impact of hostilities by government forces and separatists, condemning attacks of teachers and students in the south-west and north-west regions.
Bachelet’s comments were part of her opening statement at the 39th session of the Human Rights Council on 10 September 2018. Her predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein had in several statements bemoaned the crisis and called for the government to pursue an immediate resolution.
Michelle Bachelet’s full comments on Cameroon
The situation in Cameroon has also worsened in recent months, as fighting has intensified in the so-called Anglophone regions between security forces and armed groups, with a large number of civilian victims and over 180,000 people forced to take refuge far from their homes – now in pressing need of humanitarian assistance.
Many economic activities across these regions are now paralyzed. In this volatile security context, many people fear reprisals if they participate in the Presidential elections scheduled next month.
The Government has not acted to promote the conference on dialogue suggested by religious leaders, and there is still no mechanism in place which could envisage a halt in hostilities in the short term.
We strongly condemn reports of the killing and abductions of teachers and students and the destruction of schools by armed elements in the north-west and south-west regions. These acts of intimidation are preventing thousands of children from attending school.
We note that the Government has opened investigations into several atrocious crimes apparently committed by members of the military, and urge swift and effective action to ensure all the perpetrators of human rights violations are held accountable.
Due process should also be guaranteed for all those detained in connection with terrorism, and we urge the Government to address key grievances, in order to foster peaceful resolution of this crisis.