21, June 2018
Violence between the security forces and armed separatists in Cameroon continues to escalate, increasing the risk of potential mass atrocity crimes. On 26 May the bodies of at least 29 people, including children, were discovered in the town of Menka in the northwest of the country, highlighting the increasingly violent and insecure environment within Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.
Peaceful demonstrations over the alleged marginalization of Cameroon’s English-speaking minority began in 2016. According to an Amnesty International report released on 11 June, government forces used live ammunition against protesters, arbitrarily arrested and tortured detainees, and have destroyed a number of villages in the restive Anglophone regions. In response, armed Anglophone separatists have killed at least 44 military personnel, burned down schools and attacked teachers for not participating in a separatist boycott. Over 20,000 Cameroonians have fled to neighboring Nigeria.
In order to prevent any further armed conflict and address the growing threat of potential mass atrocity crimes, the government of Cameroon should immediately initiate a dialogue with Anglophone community leaders and constructively address the historic grievances of the English-speaking minority. The government must also ensure that the universal right to freedom of expression and assembly are respected. The security forces must end the use of disproportionate and deadly force against peaceful demonstrators and ensure that the human rights of all Cameroonians are protected, regardless of language or identity.
All perpetrators of grave human rights abuses in Cameroon, including members of armed separatist groups and the military, must be held accountable for their actions.