Cameroon (National Times)-The global rights watch organisation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released another damaging report on Cameroon in which it accuses Government soldiers of killing civilians indiscriminately and burning their properties.
“Government forces in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions have killed scores of civilians, used indiscriminate force, and torched hundreds of homes over the past six months,” the report stated.
It also accused armed separatists for mostly kidnapping civilians and school children for ransom. “Armed separatists have assaulted and kidnapped dozens of people during same period executing at least two men.”
According to the report released on March 27, since the October 7 Presidential election, violence has intensified in the two restive Regions.
“Generally, since October, about 170 civilians and 31 soldiers have been killed including 300 persons kidnapped most of whom were released after the payment of ransom,” the report said.
Lewis Mudge, Central Africa Director for HRH said it is the obligation of the Government to prosecute all those suspected of committing human rights violation.
The report also painted specific cases of rights abuses by soldiers including the attack on Ram and Nsah villages on October 21, 2018, which led to the death of four persons and the burning down of 20 houses including a local Baptist Church.
In November of same year, soldiers stormed Abuh village in the North West Region where they burnt at least 60 houses. The figures were confirmed by victims as well as satellite images taken by HRW.
On November 22, 2018, Government forces attacked Bali, burnt three houses, killed a 21 year old man and planted an explosive device on his body which later on killed two and wounded 11 others as they retrieved the corpse.
In Kumbo, on December 5, 55 houses were torched including a vocational training centre and in February 2019 soldiers again stormed Kumbo burning 60 houses and shops.
Many more cases were mentioned and HRW noted it spoke to victims and eye witnesses.
The attacks by soldiers according to the rights group were also directed towards health facilities and personnel. It said in August 2018, a nurse by name Fomonyuy Ornella, who was seven months pregnant was shot dead by Government forces in Kumbo even though she was putting on her uniform and just about 80 metres from her assassins.
While in November HRW said soldiers also attacked the Banso Baptist Hospital destroying and looting properties belonging to workers.
Contacted by HRW, the Secretary General at the Presidency, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, rejected all accusations saying any rights violation is being prosecuted.
However, Government also said about 30 cases of rights violation by soldiers are being prosecuted at Military Tribunals in Bamenda and Buea.
Separatists, according to HRW have mostly been involved in kidnappings for ransom. A case is reported of a man who was kidnapped between the Kumba-Buea Highway in October 2018 and taking to the camp of Ambazonia Restoration Forces, one of the groups in the area and the man testified of having seen two more persons being killed.
Another man also testified of being kidnapped in December 2018 and taking to the camp of the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), where he recognised “General” Ivo who was killed days after. The man testified of being tortured by “General” Ivo’s men.
Moreover, many school children were also kidnapped including the case of Lord’s Bilingual Academy, Kumba on November 20 and of Nkwen on December 14 where six students were taken away with their teacher.
In most of these cases, according to HRW, the victims were later on released after having paid ransom ranging between FCFA 100,000 and FCFA 1,500,000. However, contacted by HRW, the President of Ambazonia, Samuel Sako as well as ADF’s Scribe, denied allegations, saying it’s either done by thieves or State agents who want to tarnish their image.
The report is coming at a very crucial time when Britain and 37 other countries are accusing Government forces and separatists of similar crimes.
Moreover, some western media houses are reporting that the US Government is about sanctioning some members of Cameroon’s Government and military command.