- Title: Cameroon tortures suspects at base used by U.S., French troops - Amnesty
- Date: 19th July 2017
- Summary: DAKAR, SENEGAL (JULY 19, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DEPUTY REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR RESEARCH AT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA, STEPHEN COCKBURN, SAYING: "There is a huge amount of routine and systematic, in-communicado torture and detention. It's really important that the Cameroonian authorities recognise there is a problem. This is not the first time we have published a report with those kinds of allegations. These are perhaps allegations on a larger scale, with the most evidence that we have been able to produce yet. It's not something that can be ignored. It's not something, we can't have governments that merely talk about respecting human rights, it needs to be acted upon. That means taking the measures necessary to order the end of secret detention, to order the end of torture and to properly investigate the crimes that are being committed and hold accountable those who have perpetrated them."
- Embargoed: 2nd August 2017 21:33
- Keywords: Amnesty International Boko Haram torture BIR torture Cameroon Amnesty International investigation torture investigation
- Location: DAKAR, SENEGAL / KERAWA, CAMEROON / BELIEVED TO BE FOTOKOL, CAMEROON / GRAPHIC
- City: DAKAR, SENEGAL / KERAWA, CAMEROON / BELIEVED TO BE FOTOKOL, CAMEROON / GRAPHIC
- Country: Cameroon
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA00D6QIRY9Z
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Amnesty International published on Thursday (July 20) what it said was evidence of extensive torture of people suspected of involvement in the Islamist group Boko Haram by Cameroon forces, much of it at a base used by American and French troops in northern Cameroon.
The Deputy Regional Director of Research at Amnesty International West and Central Africa, Stephen Cockburn, said it is not the first report the rights group have published on secret detention centres and torture by elite forces in Cameroon. But it is the first time, he said, they have gathered so much evidence from more than 100 documented cases.
Through their research, testimonies, videos, photographs and satellite imagery, Amnesty International produced video detailing what they called a 'forensic architecture', showing alleged abuse in two detention centres run by Cameroon's Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) in Fotokol and Salak, which Cockburn said is likely done with the knowledge of high ranking officials in the military.
In Salak, Cockburn says the abuse is happening very close to U.S. and French forces. Amnesty said its delegates had observed French troops at the base in May 2015. It also said it had still and video images "clearly showing the regular presence of U.S personnel in numerous locations across the base, including making use of a makeshift gym and a trailer converted into an office".
Robyn Mack, a spokeswoman at the U.S. military's Africa Command, said on Wednesday (July 19) that to date, U.S. Africa Command has not received any reports of human rights abuses by Cameroonian forces at either of these locations. "Any foreign military unit that receives security assistance receives training on the law of armed conflict and human rights law," Mack added.
Cameroon's Military Spokesman, Colonel Didier Badjek, said on Tuesday (July 18) Cameroon's army were fighting Boko Haram in a "clean war, whilst respecting human rights".
"We will continue to fight Boko Haram for as long as they continue to attack on our territory. I think the Cameroonian army is one of the most disciplined in Africa," he added.
Amnesty urged the United States and France to investigate whether their military personnel knew that torture was taking place on the site, and whether or not their assistance "has contributed to the commission of these crimes and violations".
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