19, July 2018
A video which appears to show Cameroonian soldiers executing two women, a young girl and a baby was widely circulated on social media last week. The video depicts two men in army uniforms assaulting the female detainees outside a village in northern Cameroon, telling them, “BH, you are going to die” (BH is slang for Boko Haram). The women and children are then led off a dirt track, blindfolded and shot dead. The Galil rifles the soldiers are carrying suggest that they are part of the Cameroonian Army’s Rapid Intervention Battalion who have a history of human rights abuses while battling the extremist armed group, Boko Haram.
According to research by Amnesty International and other experts, the shocking video constitutes credible evidence of an extrajudicial killing carried out by Cameroonian soldiers in the Mayo-Tsanaga region. The government of Cameroon initially denounced the video as “fake news,” but has since announced a formal investigation.
Cameroon’s security forces are also embroiled in a rapidly deteriorating conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions. Widespread protests during 2016 against the marginalization and under-representation of English-speakers were met with violent repression by the government, leading to dozens of deaths and mass displacement. In October 2017 English-speaking separatists symbolically proclaimed the independent state of “Ambazonia.” Since then, violence between security forces and armed separatists has escalated. Government forces have arbitrarily arrested and tortured detainees, and have destroyed a number of villages throughout the Anglophone regions. Armed separatists have also carried out human rights abuses.
There is growing concern that upcoming presidential elections scheduled for 7 October will lead to further intensification and militarization of the conflict in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions. President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982 and announced on 13 July that he will be running again for the presidency.
It is not too late to avert the growing risk of mass atrocities in Cameroon. The security forces must immediately end the use of disproportionate and deadly force against civilians and the government must ensure that the human rights of all Cameroonians are equally protected. All soldiers and police officers responsible for unlawful killings and the torture of detainees must be held accountable for their actions.