Australia has joined its voice to other Western countries to condemn Cameroon’s human rights record after over a dozen of Commonwealth Games athletes from the Western African nation seek for asylum.
Some of these athletes have reportedly received bridge visas after claiming asylum though the Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had previously said they would be deported for overstaying their Games’ visas
Australia, the US, Britain and a host of other Western nations criticised Cameroon’s human rights record amongst them allegations of torture, arbitrary detention and attacks on civilians by security forces, suppression of freedom of speech and the media, and continued criminalisation of LGBTIQ+.
Alluding to the crisis in the two English-speaking regions of Cameroon that has displaced over 160.000 persons according to the UN as well as the Boko Haram crisis, Australian diplomat Alexander Chapman called on Cameroon to uplift unnecessary restrictions.
“Australia notes with concern the recent outbreak of violence between Cameroon security forces and protesting minority groups in the county’s southwest and northwest,” Australian diplomat Alexander Chapman told the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Cameroon in Geneva.
“Australia recommends Cameroon lift unnecessary restrictions on freedom of assembly, investigate the alleged use of force in demonstrations, and ensure arrested protestors receive fair trials.”
The Australian diplomat was echoing a position previously held by the United States.
“We remain concerned by credible allegations of humans rights violations and abuses by security forces,” US diplomat Huda Ibrahim said.
“We recommend to the government the following, one acknowledge and investigate credible allegations of human rights violations and abuses and hold those to account.”
However, Minister of External Relations told the UN Review panel that violence was only in parts of the country and the Government is doing its best to bring the situation under control.
“There is peace in this region, it is not the entire region or the entire country that’s been involved in an uprising saying they want a republic,” Cameroon’s Foreign Minister Lejeune Mbella Mbella told the UN review.
“It is a community that has taken the entire country hostage and raised awareness of the international community, sometimes wrongly, to what they call repressions in the Anglophone region.”
On the alleged rights violation carried out by the military, Mr. Lejeune Mbella Mbella said the army had carried out the acts without the authorization of the Government.