The trial is being held before a military court in Yaoundé, about 380 kilometers from Ngarbuh, making it difficult for family members of victims to attend. The defendants are charged with murder, arson, destruction, violence against a pregnant woman, and disobeying orders. Seventeen members of a vigilante group and a former separatist fighter have also been charged but remain at large.
In an October 14 press release, the army spokesperson acknowledged the “disproportionate reaction” of a gendarme who shot and killed a 4-year-old girl on her way to school in Buea, South-West region, and said an investigation has been opened. Women’s Rights Discrimination against women is prevalent within Cameroonian society and incorporated in laws that subordinate women’s status to men.
She was held in custody for “contempt of a magistrate” until August 13, when she was released and all charges against her dropped. At least 124 opposition party members and supporters arrested in September 2020 during peaceful demonstrations remained in detention on politically motivated charges, including Olivier Bibou Nissack and Alain Fogué Tedom, two prominent MRC members. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Cameroon’s penal code punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. Security forces arbitrarily arrested, beat, or threatened at least 24 people, including a 17-year-old boy, for alleged consensual same-sex conduct or gender nonconformity.
On January 8, a Boko Haram suicide attack killed at least 14 civilians, including 8 children, and wounded 3 others, including 2 children. The presumed death in May of Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in a confrontation in Nigeria with the splinter faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), helped consolidate ISWAP’s power and increased insecurity in Cameroon’s Far North region. Crackdown on Political Opposition, Dissent The government limited the ability of the political opposition to function freely.
Anglophone Crisis Based on Human Rights Watch’s field and open source research, at least 4, 000 civilians have been killed by both government forces and armed separatist fighters since late 2016 in the North-West and South-West regions, as separatists seek independence for the country’s minority Anglophone regions. Abuses by Government Forces Security forces responded to separatist attacks with a heavy hand, often targeting civilians across the Anglophone regions.
In June 2020, the French ambassador to Cameroon told the media that President Biya had assured him that an investigation would be opened into the death in custody of journalist Samuel Wazizi in August 2019. However, there has not been any progress on the investigation. On July 26, the Special Criminal Court, which oversees cases relating to the misappropriation of public funds, adjourned for the 74th time the trial of journalist Amadou Vamoulké, arrested in 2016 for alleged embezzlement. In 2020, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found his detention to be arbitrary.
World Report 2022: Rights Trends in CameroonArmed groups and government forces committed human rights abuses, including mass killings, across Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and in the Far North region. As the crisis in the Anglophone regions continued unabated for the fifth year, over 712, 000 people were internally displaced in the Anglophone regions and in the Francophone Littoral, West, and Centre regions as of August 2021, and at least 2. 2 million people were in need of humanitarian aid. Separatists, who have violently enforced a boycott on education since 2017, continued to attack students and education professionals. The Islamist armed group Boko Haram increased its attacks in the Far North region from January to April, killing at least 80 civilians, with over 340, 000 internally displaced as of August 2021.
Authorities prohibited a demonstration by the country’s main opposition party, Cameroon Renaissance Movement (Mouvement pour la renaissance du Cameroun, MRC), planned for July 25 in Yaoundé, the capital, citing concerns around Covid-19 and general public order. On the same day, a demonstration by supporters of the ruling party took place in Bertoua, Eastern region. On August 9, gendarmes arbitrarily arrested prominent tech entrepreneur, human rights campaigner, and vocal critic of President Paul Biya, Rebecca Enonchong, in Douala.
They also broke into, damaged, and looted at least 33 shops and homes, including the residence of the fon in Ndzeen village. On October 14, a gendarme shot and killed Caroluise Enondiale, a 4-year-old girl, on her way to school in Buea, South-West region. An angry mob responded by lynching the gendarme. On November 10, an improvised explosive device was thrown on to the roof of a lecture hall at the University of Buea, South-West region, wounding at least 11 students. At time of writing no one had claimed responsibility for the attack, but authorities blamed separatist fighters. Abuses by Armed Separatists Separatist fighters continued to kill, torture, assault, and kidnap civilians.
On September 7, a military court in Buea, South-West region, sentenced 4 people to death by firing squad for the killing of 7 children and the injuring of at least 13 others last year at a school in Kumba, South-West region. Defense lawyers said the trial was marred by serious procedural irregularities, starting with the use of military courts to try civilians, and including that the entire prosecution case was based on statements from alleged witnesses, none of whom were brought to court to be examined on their statements. In addition to those obstacles preventing the accused from being able to present a defense, there was no translation from English or French into Cameroonian Pidgin English, the language spoken by the majority of the defendants.
They also continued their attacks against education. According to the United Nations, 700, 000 students were out of school in March 2021 as a result of the crisis. On January 9, suspected separatist fighters killed the principal of a high school in Eyumojock, South-West region, and wounded a principal from another high school in Tinto, South-West region.
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On January 12, separatist fighters shot and injured a female public-school teacher in Bamenda, North-West region. Separatist fighters killed three tribal chiefs in Essoh Attah village, South-West region, on February 13. On February 27, armed separatists kidnapped a medical doctor in Bali, North-West region and threatened to kill him before releasing him the same day after a ransom payment. On June 6, separatist fighters attacked a religious center in Mamfe, South-West region, killing a 12-year-old boy and wounding a 16-year-old boy. Separatist fighters killed Fuh Max Dang, a physics teacher at Government Bilingual High School in Kumba, South-West region, on July 1. On August 29, armed separatists kidnapped Julius Agbortoko, a Catholic priest of the Mamfe diocese in the South-West region and asked for 20 million CFA (around US $34, 000) ransom for his release. Restrictions on Humanitarian Access and Abuses against Aid Workers Humanitarian access is severely restricted and humanitarian workers have been victims of attacks by both government forces and groups separatist armed groups.
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