The Cameroon Bar Association has accused the Defence and Security Forces of committing rights abuses in the course of the ongoing Bamenda clean operation launched over two weeks ago to weed out separatists from the chief town of the North West region of the country.
For over two weeks today, a military operation to protect the city of Bamenda and its surroundings from attacks from separatist fighters code named “Bamenda Clean” has been ongoing in that part of the country.
In a petition addressed to the Attorney General for the North West region, the Bar Council laments on the way the operation is being carried out.
According to the petition, instead of protecting the civilian population, some members of the Defence and Security Forces, DSF use this operation to intimidate, extort, carryout acts of assault and torture, illegal arrests and incommunicado detentions in places unknown to families and inaccessible to lawyers.
“The continuous perpetration of these unwarranted acts by some elements of the DSF does not only showcase a grave disregard for the respect and protection of HUMAN RIGHTS but also demonstrates the prevalence of lawlessness amid an ongoing crisis characterized by an unending cycle of violence…” Part of the petition reads.
“A system of extortion has been deployed in the “Bamenda Clean” operation wherein cases of forceful entry into houses are recorded, searches are conducted without warrants nor declaration of a state of emergency thereby intimidating the inhabitants and their fears exploited via financial gains…”It further reads
While acknowledging the intended aims of the ongoing operation, the Bar Council regrets these actions could undermine the efforts done so far to bring things back to normal in the region.
“Such excesses can only help boost the spirit of civil disobedience which nourishes radicalism, thereby undermining the efforts being made by the Government and relevant stakeholders to ensure a return to peace and justice…”
It has thus called for the respect of rule and order by the Defence and Security Forces as they execute the operation and solicited the office of the Attorney General for the North West region for investigations to be launched into the aforementioned rights abuses and those found guilty prosecuted.