Cameroon(National Times)-The African Union Commission has finally broken its silence over the Kamto case by condemning Government’s use of excessive force on peaceful protesters, while instructing the Biya regime to respect the rights of every citizen as enshrined in many international instruments including the African Charter.
“The Commission strongly condemns the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials as well as the use of lethal force against protesters and unarmed civilians,” a recent statement by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights read.
According to the Commissioner in charge of monitoring the human rights situation in Cameroon, Remy Ngoy Lumbu, the African Union (AU) is particularly concerned about the arrest and detention of more than 200 protesters following the protest march on January 26, organised by Professor Maurice Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM)
The AU reminded Cameroon that she is a signatory to the African Charter permitting peaceful protest and guaranteeing the human rights of persons.
Just like the European Union (EU), the AU has also condemned the rise of hate speech and ethnic hatred in the country. However, while the EU was particularly clear about the authors, the AU opted not to be specific.
The AU Commission further decried the general socio-political situation in the country, which is sourced out of the no respect of the AU Charter and reminds the Government of citizens’ right to peaceful protest.
“The Commission deplores the continuing deterioration of the socio-political situation in the country and reminds the Cameroonian authorities that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of a citizen to participate in the management of his country’s public affairs (Article 13), respect for life and physical and moral integrity (Article 4), freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration (Article 11) and the right to peace and security,”
The AU also gave a masterpiece lesson to Cameroon security officials on the use of firearms citing the General Principles No. 21 on the Guidelines for Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Officials in Africa and the General Comment No 3 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
It therefore urged the Biya regime to “ensure the respect for and protection of the rights enshrined in the Africa Charter,” respect the rights of citizens to peaceful protests, ensure that arrests are made in conformity with the law as well as guarantee fair trial of those arrested before ordinary courts and not military tribunals.
This is the first public statement by the African Union since Kamto and his supporters were arrested more than two months ago.
The declaration adds to others already made by the European Union, the Government of the United States and many other international institutions condemning the arrests of Maurice Kamto and the Government’s persistent refusal to permit the CRM party to organise public demonstration.
However, while the AU is coming out strong condemning Government’s poor handling of Kamto’s case, it has not utter a word on the ongoing war in the Anglophone Regions. AU has outwardly remained silent while non-African bodies are instead doing the talking.