In a statement signed on 24th August, the head of the communication division of the Ministry of Defence, Captain Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo, described as “provocative outrage”, the report of the NGO published on 11 August on the ongoing conflict in the Anglophone regions of the North West and South West.
In this document, HRW would put forward “allegedly documented allegations of destruction by fire, execution of civilians, looting and human rights violations, arbitrary detentions committed by the defence forces between 24 April and 12 June 2022 in the localities of Belo, Chomba, Missong, Ndop”, all located in the North West region.
For the army, this report dwells on abuses ‘that bear the marks of terrorist irredentists’, of these armed separatist groups at war with the central government. These accusations were rejected by the Ministry of Defence, for whom ‘HRW is known for its aversion to the Cameroonian defence and security forces’.
Faced with this “umpteenth provocation by Human Rights Watch“, Captain Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo informs that, “Cameroon being a state governed by the rule of law, the procedures following the administrative and judicial investigations triggered by these incidents are continuing serenely in accordance with the laws and regulations in force.”
International organisations regularly accuse the army of abuses in the North West and South West regions. The government denies conducting massacres against civilians and has always made it known that when a blunder is proven, the culprits are brought to justice. This is the case of the Ngarbuh massacre of 14 February 2020, where armed soldiers and civilians attacked villages and killed about ten people. Those arrested in this case are currently being brought to justice before the Yaounde military court.