Cameroon: Amnesty report reveals war crimes in fight against Boko Haram, including horrific use of torture
20 July 2017, 00:01 UTC
• Detainees subjected to severe beatings, agonising stress positions and drownings, with some tortured to death
• Widespread torture at 20 sites, including four military bases, two facilities run by intelligence services, a private residence and a school
• Calls for US and other international partners to investigate their military personnel’s possible knowledge of torture at one base
Hundreds of people in Cameroon accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, are being brutally tortured by security forces, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
Using dozens of testimonies, corroborated with satellite imagery, photographic and video evidence, the report ‘Cameroon’s secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram’ documents 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between 2013 and 2017, at over 20 different sites.
“We have repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the atrocities and war crimes committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon. But, nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa.
“These horrific violations amount to war crimes. Given the weight of the evidence we have uncovered, the authorities must initiate independent investigations into these practices of incommunicado detention and torture, including potential individual and command responsibility.”
Amnesty International wrote to the Cameroonian authorities in April 2017 to share the report’s findings, but no response was provided and all subsequent requests for meetings were refused …
The report also highlights the presence of US and French military personnel at the BIR base in Salak, and calls for these governments to investigate the extent to which their personnel stationed at Salak, or regularly visiting, may have been aware that illegal detention and torture was taking place on site.
Amnesty International delegates have directly observed French soldiers during one visit there, while more than a dozen former detainees held there between 2015 and 2016 said they saw and heard white, English-speaking men at the base, including some in military uniform. This has been confirmed by photographic and video evidence showing uniformed US personnel, some of whom are stationed there.
“Given the frequent and possibly prolonged presence of their military personnel, the US government and other international partners should investigate the degree to which their personnel were aware of illegal detention and torture at the Salak base, and whether they took any measures to report it to their hierarchy and the Cameroonian authorities,” said Alioune Tine.
Amnesty International wrote to the US and French Embassies in Cameroon on 23 June 2017, requesting further information about what their personnel knew and what was reported. The US Embassy responded on 11 July and their letter can be found in the report. No response was received from the French Embassy.
Cameroonian troops tortured and killed prisoners at base used for U.S. drone surveillance: here.