The Government of Cameroon’s response to the protests and demonstrations in the Southwest and Northwest regions of Cameroon is very concerning and raises serious questions about the government’s commitments to its international human rights and constitutional obligations. While the violent conduct of some protesters and other citizens must certainly be condemned, the excessive use of force by security forces that has led to many injuries and deaths being reported must be even more vehemently condemned. Security forces must protect the freedom of expression and right to protest, but they must certainly not violently and brutally surpress the exercise of such rights. Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon condemns all acts of violence in totality. We further call on the government of Cameroon to exercise restraint and show an honest commitment to protecting human rights in the conduct of security forces and government representatives. We, yet again, remind the government that there is no legitimate role for firearms in the policing of peaceful protests.
We take note of the fact that some military units were detained in Ebonji village of the Southwest region of Cameroon by some civilians. We are deeply concerned by such actions and call on the people of the Southwest region to respect the free movement of the military and not to unlawfully detain any persons. We also wish to note the restraint we have seen by some units of the securities forces. This should be commended, but sadly is not the conduct we are seeing from other units.
Contra Nocendi Cameroon’s Executive Director Gilbert Ajebe Akame noted, “We have already made the point that the restriction of freedom of movement impinge on what is clearly a very important human rights, so the government should rather resort to measures that build confidence that this right is not being violated“. While there have been issues of violence committed by civilians, the wide scope of the restrictions by the security forces appear to be unreasonable and disproportionate in relation to this. Undermining the rights of an entire region in response to the behavior of a few is a response that has no place in a democratic society. We have also received complaints about restrictions on internet access in both regions. If the government has indeed taken action to restrict or block internet access, this must stop immediately. Access to the internet is an indispensable part of the freedom of information and free speech.
We urge all parties to take steps to raise their grievances in a constructive and inclusive manner. Cameroon faces a very serious threat in Boko Haram, and given this fact, it is vitally important the government of Cameroon takes steps to promote unity among all of its people.