Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday described the abuse of detainees at a detention center in Cameroon’s capital city of Yaoundé, identifying violations of domestic and international human rights law.
Torture and detention have been “endemic in Cameroon’s law enforcement and military system,” carried out by gendarmes and other security forces of the State Defense Secretariat. These tactics are employed against suspected members or supporters of Boko Haram or armed separatist groups.
Interviewed detainees explained that they were subjected to interrogations that featured humiliation and punishment, which were followed by forced signings of statements “they were not allowed to read or could not read because [the statements] were in French.” Most of the detainees were charged with crimes related to terrorism despite the fact that the majority of those interviewed by HRW were civilians.
Within a one year period, 26 cases of incommunicado detention were documented, and at least 14 cases of torture were noted. HRW indicated that the “total numbers are likely much higher, because abuses are committed in secret and many former detainees are reluctant to speak because they fear reprisals.” There are indications that these human rights violations are still ongoing.
Thus far, there has been an absence of repercussions. HRW called on the UN Security Council to address the situation in Cameroon by condemning the abuses and “call[ing] for the government to end these practices.”