US blacklists Cameroon from AGOA program over rights violations

The United States of America has terminated Cameroon’s trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunities Act, AGOA. This it explains is as a result of rights violations.

“Under US law, countries receiving AGOA benefits are subject to regular reviews to assess criteria set out by the US Congress… After this comprehensive process, the President (of the US) found Cameroon to be out of compliance with AGOA’s eligibility criteria due to its engagement in gross violation of internationally recognized human rights” a release from the US Embassy in Yaounde reads.

In a message to the US Congress, President Trump cited a similar reason, noting that the rights violations include ” extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture”.US President, Donald Trump the US embassy’s communiqué adds “can reinstate Cameroon as a beneficiary of AGOA when it again meets the criteria and we remain committed working with Cameroon to do so”.

The recent decision comes at a period when Cameroon is been facing intense criticism for its handling of the Anglophone crisis. Human Rights Watch, Crisis Group, CPJ have accused the government of excess use of force and suppression of dissenting voices.

Earlier this week, 65 domestic and international organisations urged the AU to send a fact-finding mission to Cameroon, to investigate killings in the restive North West and South West regions of Cameroon.

The U.S media reports indicate would also in the months ahead reduce spending on security aid to the Cameroon government in the fight against militant groups such as Boko Haram.AGOA was approved by the U.S. Congress in 2000 and is aimed at assisting the economies of sub-Saharan Africa and improving economic relations between the United States and the region.

After completing its initial 15-year period of validity, the AGOA legislation was extended on 29 June 2015 by a further 10 years, to 2025.

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