Cameroon accused of brutal acts of torture
AMNESTY International has accused Cameroon security forces of war crimes against civilians caught up in the fight against terror group Boko Haram.
In a report released yesterday, Amnesty International said the alleged crimes, which included detention and torture, were being carried out at 20 sites, including four military bases, two facilities run by intelligence services, a private residence, as well as a school.
“Hundreds of people in Cameroon accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, are being brutally tortured by security forces,” said Amnesty International, which urged the US and other international partners to investigate their military personnel’s possible knowledge of torture.
Using dozens of testimonies, corroborated with satellite imagery, photographic and video evidence, the report titled “Cameroon’s secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram” documents 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017, at more than 20 different sites.
“We have repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the atrocities and war crimes committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon. But nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
“These horrific violations amount to war crimes. Given the weight of the evidence we have uncovered, the authorities must initiate independent investigations into these practices of incommunicado detention and torture, including potential individual and command responsibility.”
Amnesty International said it wrote to the Cameroonian authorities in April to share the report’s findings, but no response was provided and all subsequent requests for meetings were refused.
Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram has killed more than 1 500 civilians in Cameroon since 2014, and abducted many others.
The Amnesty report said “victims described at least 24 torture methods they were subjected to. In one common stress position, described by detainees as ‘the goat’, their limbs were tied together behind their back before they were beaten.
“The overwhelming majority of victims were tortured in two unofficial detention sites – the headquarters of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) in Salak, near the northern city of Maroua, and a facility in the capital, Yaoundé, run by the General Directorate of External Research (DGRE), Cameroon’s intelligence services, situated close to the country’s Parliament.”
Amnesty International said while torture was usually carried out by low and mid-ranking BIR officers and DGRE agents, higher-ranking DGRE officers were also identified by victims as being involved in interrogations.
“The scale and frequency of the violations, as well as the locations of rooms used, makes it very likely that other senior officers at sites like Salak would have known what was happening. They appear to have taken no measures to prevent or punish these violations,” said the rights body.
The report said more than 50 victims identified the same room in Salak where they were most commonly tortured. Amnesty International’s evidence suggested that these military bases and other sites are still holding dozens of detainees who were allegedly being subjected to horrific acts of torture.
These horrific violations amount to war crimes – report