SDIR Committee News Release
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Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
Sous-comité des droits internationaux de la personne du Comité permanent des affaires étrangères et du développement international
For immediate release
Subcommittee on International Human Rights Holds Hearing on the Human Rights Situation in Cameroon
Ottawa, July 4, 2019 -
Cameroon is facing multiple crises. As security forces battle with Boko Haram in the north, conflict with separatist militias persist in Cameroon’s anglophone northwest and southwest regions. This comes almost two years after the first widespread protests against increasing francophone dominance over Cameroon’s justice and education system. Opposition leaders and their adherents face arbitrary detentions and violations of their freedom of assembly. Such human rights abuses escalated after Cameroon’s October 2018 presidential election, which were broadly criticized for irregularities.
Seeking an update on the situation since its last meeting on Cameroon in October 2018, the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) heard the testimony of Scott Morgan, Chair of the Africa working group of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable and Tita Agbahey, Amnesty International campaigner for Central Africa on 13 June 2019.
These witnesses described a pattern of human rights violations in which units of Cameroon’s security forces have engaged in arbitrary detention, the systematic use of torture and unlawful killings. Impunity for these crimes prevails. Furthermore, the root causes of the crisis in Cameroon’s anglophone region have not been directly addressed, with no end to hostilities in sight. As conflict continues and trust in the central government evaporates, thousands remain displaced, schools remain closed and the economy depressed, threatening to create a lost generation.
The Subcommittee adds its voice to the international community’s calls for serious scrutiny of Cameroon’s security forces and for a political solution to the situation in Cameroon’s anglophone regions. The Subcommittee notes that a multitude of actors could apply pressure on the government of Cameroon, including states providing military aid, the African Union, the Commonwealth, la Francophonie and the United Nations Security Council. Now is the time to act decisively, and the Government of Canada should use every opportunity to promote respect for human rights and peaceful dialogue.
“As a member of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie, Canada is well placed to engage in the complex task of establishing a mediation process leading to a political solution acceptable to both Cameroon’s central government and its anglophone community.”
-Anita Vandenbeld, M.P.
“The complexity of Cameroon’s political crisis and Cameroon’s fight against terrorism cannot justify human rights violations. The community of states has a responsibility to promote respect for human rights everywhere.”
-David Sweet, M.P.
“The human rights abuses carried out by Cameroon’s security forces serve only to further disillusion Cameroonians who have already been displaced, lost educational opportunities, and lost faith in their government. To avoid a lost generation, the time for action is now.”
-Cheryl Hardcastle, M.P.
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