On March 1, President Biya created a commission of inquiry on the Ngarbuh massacre in the restive North West region.
Though established under pressure, the commission was hailed as the light in the dark.
While Human Rights Watch lauded the participation of the head of the National Human Rights Commission, it said the appointment of the defense minister to lead the inquiry raised concerns about its independence.
Noting that it’s been two months since the creation of the commission, Lewis Mudge Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch says “Cameroon’s government should immediately make the findings of its investigation public.”
The government he says should also “ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”
“It has been two months since the Ngarbuh massacre, which stands as a prime example of the impunity for the Cameroonian security forces,” Mudge says.
The Ngarbuh massacre had over 30 victims including women and children. Government has since denied carrying out the act, though several investigations place soldiers at the site of the incident. “The attack in Ngarbuh” HRW says “was not an isolated case, but part of a larger pattern of serious human rights abuses by the Cameroonian security forces in the Anglophone regions.”
Noting that the coronavirus pandemic is paramount at the moment, Lewis Mudge says it is nonreason for the ongoing Anglophone crisis to be ignored.
“The Covid-19 crisis, while paramount, should not displace the need to take action on key human rights concerns and ensure accountability for serious military abuse” he says.
“In a time of national crisis, transparency is all the more valuable, and the government should demonstrate that it will hold abusive members of its military accountable for the deliberate killing of civilians” the human rights advocate notes.
In addition to the Ngarbuh massacre, the Cameroon government has denied several other rights violations in the restive North West and South West regions. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many say the situation is set to deteriorate if government doesn’t act accordingly.