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HRW: Cameroon troops killed at least 10

John Silk
August 11, 2022

The report comes amid a string of allegations by human rights monitors while the fighting between security forces and English-speaking militants intensifies. President Biya is trying to implement a crackdown on dissent.

Soldiers take part in a parade to celebrate the National Day in Yaounde, Cameroon
Several people have been 'forcibly disappeared' due to the actions of troops, HRW saidImage: Kepseu/Xinhua/picture alliance

Troops in Cameroon's Northwest Region "summarily killed" at least 10 people amid a crackdown by President Paul Biya against Anglophone separatists earlier this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Thursday.

The report said Cameroonian soldiers had "carried out a series of other abuses between April 24 and June 12, during counter-insurgency operations" in the region.

"The troops also burned 12 homes, destroyed, and looted health facilities, arbitrarily detained at least 26 people, and are presumed to have forcibly disappeared up to 17 others," HRW said in its latest account on the African country.

Fighting between security forces and separatists intensifies

The report comes amid a string of allegations by human rights monitors as the fighting between security forces and English-speaking militants intensifies. The militants are demanding home rule in Francophone-majority Cameroon.

The Northwest and Southwest Regions are home to most of the Anglophones, who account for around 17% of the country's population.

In 2017, resentment at perceived discrimination snowballed into the declaration of an independent state — the "Federal Republic of Ambazonia," an entity that is not globally recognized.

Biya's crackdown on dissent

The 89-year-old President Biya, who has ruled the country for the last four decades, has responded to the fallout by implementing a crackdown on dissent.

The violence between the warring factions has claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced roughly a million people, according to the International Crisis Group.

International observers, along with the United Nations, say both sides have committed rights abuses, including crimes against civilians.

Cameroon: Greenhouse farm to tackle global food insecurity

'Serious violations against civilians'

"Instead of protecting the population from threats posed by armed groups, the Cameroonian security forces have committed serious violations against civilians, causing many to flee their homes," said Ilaria Allegrozzi, HRW's Senior Central Africa Researcher, who focuses primarily on Cameroon.

"Cameroonian authorities should conduct credible and impartial investigations into these serious abuses and hold the abusers accountable."

In June, the Norwegian Refugee Council placed the internal conflict in Cameroon as third highest on its list of the world's 10 "most neglected" displacement crises.

The NRC cited a lack of international will to find solutions, a paucity of media coverage and insufficient funding of humanitarian aid.

Edited by: Mark Hallam