Corpses of 25 Maroua prison inmates still ‘missing’ two years on

It has been two years since government confirmed the death of 25 detainees who were held in custody in a…

It has been two years since government confirmed the death of 25 detainees who were held in custody in a detention center in Maroua, Far North region for reportedly having links with Boko Haram; yet the families of the suspects do not know the whereabouts of their corpses.

In a press release Amnesty International issued today March 13, the international human rights organisation demands the government of Cameroon should reveal the identities of the deceased suspects. The suspects were among some 200 suspected arrested during a raid on two villages in the region, shortly after a Boko Haram attack.

In addition to the 25 declared dead (who Issa Tchiroma Backary, government spokesman claimed died of suffocation due to the tight nature of the cell) 130 other detainees were declared missing. Amnesty International says their whereabouts are also still unknown till date.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher says leaving the families of these suspects to wonder what happened to their relations, is equal to submitting them to suffering.

Amnesty International in its recent report on the status of human rights in country’s around the world, criticized the impunity it identified in Cameroon. It restated that despite the fact that government has announced that Zé Onguéné Charles, the Colonel who was in charge of the raids was being tried according to the law, charges against him at the Yaounde Military Tribunal were limited to negligence and failure to follow the right detention procedures.

Government is also criticised for concealing results of investigations government opened to determine the facts of the incident. According to the rights organisation’s findings, eight people were killed during the said raids in Magdéme and Doublé, including one child. Investigations have not been opened to shed light on their case as well as that of the 130 who were subjected to forced disappearance.

Government spokesperson has on several occasions,  stated that reports published by Amnesty International are hardly a reflection of what happens on the ground.

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