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Rights Commission opens investigation on suspected abuses in Anglophone regions

Dr. Divine Chemuta Banda, NCHRF Chairman © Scores2000

The National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms, NCHRF has opened investigations into alleged abuses recording during the ongoing protests sparked by lawyers and teacher’s strike in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon.

Dr. Chemuta Divine Banda, the Commission Chairman led a delegation of investigators to the North west while Professor James Kobila, Vice Chairman of the Commission led another delegation to the South West last week.

Six out of the thirty members of the Commission were present at a meeting with various stakeholders and government officials of the South West Region, at the Buea Council Town Hall to have a frank discussion with inhabitants of Buea living in the heart of the crisis. The move was in an effort to have first-hand testimonies and concrete examples of violations they suffered.

Speaking at the meeting, the South West Regional Secretary for the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, NCHRF, Christopher Tambe Tiku, disclosed that contrary to the opinion by a plethora of critics that the Commission is heavily in favour of the government, it is a completely independent body that does its own investigations, determines where human rights have been trampled upon and renders findings to the courts for legal action to be taken on the perpetrators.

The members of the commission come from a wide spectrum of Cameroon’s society including civil society organizations, the Cameroon Bar Association, workers’ trade unions and penitentiary administration. During presentations by attendees at the gathering, the issue of the severe violation of children’s rights was hammered upon due to their 2-month stay out of school.

The reported rape of a female student if the University of Buea during the November strike was equally a major point of debate as well as the alleged death of the victim. The internet blackout in the North West and South West Regions as well as the arbitrary arrests and detentions of individuals sympathetic to the causes of the striking lawyers and teachers were also addressed.

The Vice Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms, Professor James Kobila, told reporters in an interview that they had come to the South West Region to enable all parties, whether government of civil, to report all cases of violations of human rights over the past two months.

He gave to understanding that the grievances tabled to government by the Anglophones stem from deeply rooted problems but that their job is to identify the root causes and the individuals responsible. He said they would question some persons for better understanding of the problem and urged stakeholders on both sides of the divide to respect the rights of the others.

The Commission equally has the task of visiting prisons and detention centers around the South West region to feel the reality of prisoners and inspect the conditions of detention. They are also to visit sites where violence took place, with promises of doing a thorough job and making sure that justice is served and law breakers are punished accordingly.

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