Days after North West Governor, Adolphe Lele Lafrique set up a commission to investigate the destruction of homes and property caused gun battle in Alachu, Matsam, and Muwatsu, in Mankon-Bamenda, Human Rights Watch is mounting pressure on the Government to make the findings transparent and independent.
In a statement, Thursday May 23, the rights watchdog has saluted government’s move to dig into the incident which left at least 70 homes destroyed and one death.
But wants a clean job and the culprit soldiers identified and punished.
“The government’s move to investigate these attacks on civilians and their property is an important step to ensure accountability,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
While asking for a prompt, independent, and impartial investigations, Human Rights watch is pushing Yaounde to also spare a thought over previous cases.”It should not end there. The government should immediately review other cases of alleged abuses by its security forces and prosecute those responsible.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 15 residents of Mankon, including 10 witnesses, who described how soldiers from the Air Force and the Rapid Intervention Battalion coordinated the attack. Human Rights Watch also reviewed satellite imagery showing over 70 buildings affected by fire and photographs and videos showing extensive destruction of property.
On May 15, following the killing of two Air Force soldiers by suspected armed separatists, security forces killed Nwacha Christopher Neba, a 41-year-old mechanic, and burned down scores of private homes and shops across Alachu, Matsam, and Muwatsu, three neighborhoods in Mankon, in what appears to be retaliation against residents perceived as sympathetic to separatists.
A witness said that the military went to Neba’s house in Alachu, “broke down the door, pulled him out, and beat him savagely.” The witness then heard gunshots. He said the man’s body was found in the street shortly afterward, shot in the head and the back.
Ten witnesses said soldiers looted homes and shops and killed domestic animals. A church and clinic were also swept by the military elements.
Two days later the Regional Governor installed a committee to evaluate the level of damage in view of compensation.
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The organisation has charged Cameroonian authorities and the separatists to stop abuses on residents and ensure that humanitarian organizations have free and unhindered access to the area to assess the needs of the population and provide assistance.
Human Rights Watch says it has documented extensive burning of villages by members of the security forces between 2017 and 2019 in both the North-West and South-West regions, as well as killings of civilians.
But the Cameroon Government maintains its military has been professional in fighting Ambazonian separatists in the restive regions.
The Commission is scheduled to submit its report by Friday May 24.
By: Nsoesie Peter
Mimi Mefo Info