Below is the Minister of Communication's preliminary statement during a press conference on July 21, 2017 on Amnesty International's 2017 report entitled " Cameroon's secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram."
The Amnesty International non-governmental organization published, twenty-four hours ago, on July 20, 2017, an outrageously accusatory report on the respect for human rights in the fight that our country is leading against the Boko Haram terrorist organisation.
The said report, as you are also aware, follows a similar one that was published in July 2016.
In its 2017 issue, Amnesty International chose to cross the whistle-blowing threshold and get into the category of accusation and legal and even judicial characterization of what it believes to have found in the struggle of our Defense and Security Forces against the Boko Haram obscurantist criminals.
For those who could still doubt it, the focus on Cameroon and its Defence and Security Forces, the accumulation of false and gross findings by Amnesty International prove that we are faced with a real destabilization campaign whose objectives have at least the merit of being clear. Amnesty International', an organisation which is now playing the role of an organization for the defence of terrorist interests, is no more no less, aiming:
- To weaken the morale and effectiveness of Cameroonian Defense and Security Forces
- To annihilate on the operational level, the offensive initiatives which are causing the greatest harm to the aggressors;
- To tarnish the image of the Defence and Security Forces in the eyes of the international partners, and to dissociate them from the global response called for by the Head of State, Commander-in-chief of the Army, and in which Cameroon is a key link at regional level, and most especially at sub-regional level.
As a matter of fact, under the caption, and I quote: "Cameroon's secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram", end of quote, Amnesty International terms as executioner a legitimate and sovereign State, a regular and patriotic army against an organization yet criminal and fearing neither God nor man, whose sole aim is to occupy and take away a part of our territory to establish its caliphate. This organization driven by such an abject aspiration, seems to be perceived by Amnesty International, contrary to all expectations, as pious and angelic.
The action of our Defence and Security Forces is thus qualified as, and I quote, "widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain", end of quote.
They go on saying, and I quote again, that « These horrific violations amount to war crimes. The overwhelming majority of victims were tortured in two unofficial detention sites; the headquarters of the Rapid Intervention Batallion (BIR) in Salak, near the northern city of Maroua, and a facility in the capital, Yaoundé run by the General Directorate of External Research (DGRE), Cameroon's intelligence services, situated close to the country's parliament", end of quote.
Amnesty International, in keeping with its logic of protecting terrorist interests, begins to chastise in order to discourage such move, the cooperation of armies from friendly countries.
The US and French military are thus pinpointed and merely treated as accomplices of war crimes that the Army and the Cameroonian intelligence services would be, according to Amnesty International, perpetrating against innocent victims linked to Boko Haram.
From this standpoint, it should be noted that Amnesty International attaches its accusations to atrocities allegedly perpetrated by the Cameroonian Defence and Security Forces against ordinary citizens, based on fictitious or instrumentalized witness accounts, while trying to substantiate the allegations with inconsistent evidence that do not stand up to reality.
Let me give you a few examples:
-Who, if not an ill-intentioned person, can truly believe that a country that subjects Boko Haram bloodthirsty criminals, even when arrested with weapons in their hands, would be reduced to perpetrating atrocities against its own population? If our Army carried out extra-judiciary killings as Amnesty International claims, would there be more than a thousand Boko Haram prisoners in our prisons treated humanely, as is the case today, in spite of the unspeakable atrocities committed by Boko Haram especially against the civilian populations. Any fighter of this terrorist organization arrested on the national territory is subjected to an investigation and a judgment in the competent courts according to the rules of the law. Significant financial resources are being made available for their care, as well as for the development and rehabilitation of their places of detention.
-In its demonization move, Amnesty International is targeting the BIR, an elite unit of our Army, in an attempt to demolish the concrete base of our Defense and Security Forces. But Amnesty International may be unaware that BIR, in so far as it is an elite unit, is above all, a component of our Army and that it is the Head of State, in his capacity as Commander-in-chief of the Army that is vested with the exclusive power of distributing the roles of the various components on the battle grounds.
Amnesty International is questioning the fact that the government decided at some point to relocate schools, which would have been later transformed into detention and torture centres. But what is it all about? To refresh Amnesty International's memory, schools are among the preferred targets of Boko Haram's obscurantist propaganda and one of the main consequences of the war was the closure of schools with the risk of successive blank years during the three years of war. Courageously, the State of Cameroon initially relocated schools thanks to the solidarity of the populations who welcomed the pupils at the most critical moment of the war. As the situation was getting more and more stable, schools gradually reopened with the imperative duty for the Defense and Security Forces to ensure the protection of students. If this presence is assimilated to a breach of international commitments, the choice is soon made for Cameroon. This example, among many others, demonstrates Amnesty International's apparent bad faith and its methods of making up and manipulating the truth.
Let me make it clear to Amnesty International, and also to any other interlocutor within the national and international community, that in this fight, no atrocity is being tolerated from our Defence and Security Forces in the various actions carried out in operations. The principle is to strictly comply with international humanitarian and human rights law, on which our Army and Security Forces have received rigorous training, leaving no room for stubbornness. To this end, a training centre has been set up in Mindif in the Far North Region, where the humanitarian law modules are being taught. The Head of State, Commander-in Chief-of the Armed Forces, has on each occasion in his public addresses, commended the army for their sense of discipline, professionalism and respect of ethical values.
Nevertheless, whenever any misconduct is noticed, it is punished with objectivity and leaving no room for any complacency once it is proven. Respect for human rights and the principles set out by various international organizations on this matter, are among the unavoidable constraints of the legitimate actions carried out by Cameroon against terrorism. It is in this perspective that the authorities in high command spare no effort to heavily punish any proven behavioral differences, going to the extent of dismissing soldiers convicted of committing abuses on civilians. Whatever the case, they can be isolated cases of abuse, but whenever exposed, their authors are punished adequately without any complacency. Meanwhile, a detachment is affected to each troop at the battle front. This detachment made up of judicial police officers is looking for offenses, collecting evidence and refer the defaulters before the competent military courts. Beyond the purely disciplinary field, the perpetrators of eventual abuses are placed at the disposal of the courts under the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The perfect compliance of our country with such principles has been formally acknowledged by the UN Human Rights Council during its April 1, 2015 Session in Geneva.
As a matter of fact, during this meeting, the UN Human Rights Council reaffirmed the appreciation of the United Nations system to Cameroon for the actions carried out by our country in this regard.
Calling for greater international solidarity, the Human Rights Council warmly congratulated Cameroon for the efforts undertaken, alongside all other countries affected by the atrocities of Boko Haram for a final eradication of this scourge.
The Government seizes this opportunity to hail the synergies of action between Cameroon and the international community in this fight that the country is leading alongside other front-line States, whether within the framework of the Multinational Joint Task Force or Bilateral cooperation with neighboring armies and especially the Nigerian Army.
The Government is grateful to all the friendly countries that have come to support the people of Cameroon in their fight against the terrorist peril.
All in all, the Cameroonian Defense and Security Forces are leading a legitimate, clean and regular war against a horde of terrorists whose only ideology is that of crime. To do this, the Cameroonian Defense and Security Forces rely on the populations that provide them with reliable information. The quality of the Army-Nation relations is excellent, the image of the army is improved by the civilian and military actions carried out in favor of these populations, who are devoted to a model of "soldier of peace".
This perception is visible whenever the Defense Forces crisscross villages in the zones of ??action where it receives encouragement from many at each of its passages. Press trips with credible international journalists who have free access to the populations can describe the state of relations between the army and the people. Moreover, the concept of Defense in Cameroon is grounded on the notion of popular Defense whose permanent element is the granitic tie between the Army and the Nation.
In any case, Amnesty International's view of Cameroon's military action against Boko Haram cannot, without running the risk of discrediting itself, be diametrically opposed to the reports of other credible international organizations, such as that of the United Nations Commission for Refugees. It is, therefore, asking questions about these allegations, which are in dissonance with a country that is hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees feeling at home in Cameroon to the point of no longer wanting to return home.
What is more striking in Amnesty International's continuing hostility to Cameroon and particularly in the struggle of our nation against the terrorist enemy is the complete ignorance of the heavy toll that our country is paying as a result of the imposed aggression, under the banner of the obscurantism and barbarism of others.
All this seem not to have been enough to arouse the empathy of Amnesty International that, on the contrary, persistently attacked Cameroonian Defence and Security Forces.
Perharps, Amnesty International would have preferred Cameroon not to react to such aggression and ignore the horrors suffered by our people and our Army. Then, we would have surely been hailed by this organization, yet mandated to defend human rights.
If we go by Amnesty International's logic, the only crime committed by the Cameroonian Government would have been to defend its terrirorial integrity and protect the persons and goods within its boundaries.
Unfortunately for Amnesty International, neither the Cameroonian people nor the international community would advance their cause.
In fact, what Amnesty International and her partners should know is that they have outpassed an unacceptable line in their attack against Cameroon as they have blatantly uncovered the location of Cameroon's strategic infrastructures, thereby pinpointing these infrastructures as a key target for Boko Haram and the Islamic State to which the terrorist group is associated. Disclosing such sensitive information, more importantly in a country at war, cannot be tolerated. These are unacceptable breaches against our national security for which Amnesty International would be held accountable. Relevant services are currently reviewing the report of Amnesty International and all the legal implications will be sorted out. Henceforth, this organisation must be regarded as hostile to our Army and our Fatherland.
On his part, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Army, has committed our nation into a multidimensional counter attack, in a bid to appropriately respond to the aggression faced by Cameroon.
The international community joined Cameroon in this fight through diverse interventions of either military, logistic, or strategic nature.
To date, and even though Boko Haram has retained some capacity to cause harm, it has now been pushed to its limits and is certainly living the last days of its morbid existence.
Apparently, this outcome is not what Amnesty International would have desired. This therefore leads us to question her actual motives and hidden agenda.
We also believe that in the community of nations, Cameroon cannot expect to have only friends and that some of her rivals might be wishing to see the country in trouble. Growing impatient to see this ill-fated purpose come true, maybe they would see in terrorism a convenient way to achieve their goal.
Above all, the Cameroonian Government reaffirms its utmost support to our Defence and Security Forces whose courage helped us preserve to the ultimate sacrifice, the country's territorial integrity.
The Government especially commends the active solidarity of the Cameroonian people and her widespread mobilization in favour of our Defence and Security Forces and the people in the Far-North Region, who are victims of Boko Haram's crimes.
Cameroon is and will remain united behind its leader, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Army.
The attachment of the people of Cameroon to the values of peace, national unity and solidarity will ever remain unshakeable notwithstanding the high maneuvers of mermaids of destabilization and demobilization.
The people of Cameroon will more than ever, continue to move forward with dignity and determination on the path set forth by the Head of State towards achieving its emergence.
Thank you for your kind attention."