Fight Against Boko Haram:Tchiroma Refutes Allegations of Human Rights Abuse

Says Cameroonian soldiers are trained to respect human rights.

The Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma has refuted allegations by Transparency International that Cameroonian security forces are violating human rights in the fight against Boko Haram. Speaking a press conference in his ministry yesterday, the minister said Cameroonian security forces are trained to respect human rights. More so, he said the head of State and commander in chief of the defense forces had given instruction for the strict respect of human rights saying any soldier found violating the rights of Boko Haram suspects is punished.

He therefore said there were no arbitrary arrests in Cameroon or summary executions, torture of prisoners and excessive use of force as claimed by Amnesty international in the report which was rendered public in a press conference on Wednesday in Yaounde. He disclosed that Boko Haram suspects are handed over to the National Gendarmerie for investigation and if charged, the accused is handed over to the military court where he has a right to a lawyer and incase of inability to find one, the government offers a lawyer.

In case the accused is not satisfied with the verdict, he or she can appeal the judgment in the appeal courts. He said those awaiting trial or who have been sentenced already, serve their sentence in dignity. So far 30 rulings concerning 88 people have already been issued as government tries to speed up the judicial procedure not only for Boko Haram suspects but also violators of common law.

He admitted that there was general problem of overcrowding in Cameroonian prisons which is not peculiar only to Boko Haram prisoners and that the government will soon embark on a process of constructing new prisons and renovating the existing ones. He also said the government will decongest overcrowded prisons by moving the inmates to less congested detention centres with a view of separating Boko Haram prisoners from common law prisoners.

A case in point was that of some 200 people who were arrested in the villages of Macdeme and Doublé on December 27th. 25 of them died in custody in Maroua and autopsy revealed that they had consumed a dangerous local chemical and not killed by the defense forces as claimed by Amnesty international.

He said Boko Haram terrorism is not conventional warfare and therefore there is no legal status for the organization to benefit from the Geneva accord on the treatment of prisoners of war. He however stated that Cameroon is winning the war against Boko Haram in strict compliance with the anti terrorist law enacted in December 2014.

Cameroon Tribune

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