13 November 2017

Cameroon: Killing of Gendarmerie Officers - Rights Commission Condemns

Below is press release from the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms.

"On 6 November 2017, secessionist radicals shot and killed Bienvenue Ndjonlay, a gendarme following an armed attack on the Lycée Technique in Jakari. During the armed attack, students and teachers were brutalized in an effort to prevent the smooth conduct of classes.

On the night of the 8th and 9th of November, two other gendarmes, René Himna, Chief of Staff and David Saley, a pupil Constable, died under similar circumstances in Bamenda of terrorist attacks by the same secessionists. David Saley was shot and killed in cold-blood while guarding a school campus in Bayele quarters. In the same line, 2nd class Emmanuel Yaya was atrociously killed on the night of the 9th and 10th of November, Jeannette Ngawafu, a shopkeeper, was also killed during attacks in which many others were seriously wounded. Subsequently, the Up-Station gendarmerie legion was attacked but without casualties.

These coordinated attacks did target the security forces that were protecting schools and ensuring the safety of persons and property as they prevented terrorist actions by those who through ant-democratic methods are trying to impose respect for the obscurantist watchword of school boycott. Such attacks come in the same trend as the terrorist bomb attack by the same secessionists targeting police officers that were sent to protect the Bamenda regional hospital on September 21, 2017, and three persons were seriously injured.

At least four schools were set ablaze by the lunatic fringe between 13 August and 1st November 2017, to impose closure by force (the Comprehensive Baptist College Nkwen, dormitory Sacred Heart College Mankom, Presbyterian bilingual school Jakiri, in Kumbo and Presbyterian Secondary School, Bafut). Again, on 28 October 2017, when lawyer Félix Agbor Balla Nkongho (one of the leaders of the strike movement in the North-West Regions and who was released), appealed in favour of school resumption, his family home was burned down.

It should equally be remembered that 10 people were killed and many others injured during the 22 September and 1 October 2017 protests. The National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (hereinafter "NCHRF") extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of all the victims and utterly condemns such barbaric acts which repeatedly violate the right to the life and physical integrity of the national security forces, who work for public peace and protect the rights of the people, some of whom only went about their business for the prosperity of all.

Likewise, these attacks directly affect the fundamental right to education and the right to property, both enshrined in the Constitution by various international instruments and the laws and regulations of the country. Yet these rights are overtly violated by those who, for over a year now, have been behind the boycott and ghost towns.

These attacks, combined with those staged against the security forces, spell out the intolerance and undemocratic character and barbarity of the perpetrators, who have systematically resorted to violence barely six months to municipal and legislative elections-which may even lead to the appointment of representatives of their choice, capable of carrying political demands in a civilized society.

The Commission hails the memory of these human rights heroes, fallen heroes for the noble cause of education, protection of freedoms and the rights of property, while participating in the imperious duties of the State.

The right to education and protection that are linked to most of the victims of such obscurantist barbarism by the terrorist separatists are especially guaranteed by the Cameroonian Constitution of 18 January 1996, which states in its preamble that "the state shall guarantee the child's right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory.

The organization and supervision of education at all levels shall be the bounden duty of the State". The right to education is also enshrined in numerous regional and international legal instruments ratified by the State of Cameroon. Thus, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights states in Article 17 that "everyone has the right to education". Similarly. Article 13(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights stipulates that, "The States Parties to the present convention, recognize the right of everyone to education.

They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and sense of their dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society, promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations and all racial, ethnic or religious groups, as well as further the United Nations business for the maintenance of peace.

With regard to this legal framework which requires respect for the fundamental right life and physical integrity, the right to property and the right to education, and recalling the resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations Organization, which characterizes "all acts of terrorism, whatever they may be, (as) criminal and unjustifiable, whatever the motives, the time and the perpetrators", the Commission urges all national organizations of civil society and all non-governmental organizations to lend an hand and unanimously condemn these outrageous human rights abuses.

Especially as they occur at a time when the Head of State has been taking measures upon measures of appeasement in a bid to respond favourably to the legitimate social demands of the protesters.

The Commission encourages government to seek out and bring to justice the perpetrators of these acts of barbarism while continuing to take appropriate measures to ensure the full enjoyment of the right to life and physical integrity, the right to property and the right to education for all citizens of Cameroons, from North to South, from East to West. The Commission welcomes the government initiative to strengthen the security system around the campuses of primary, secondary and higher education institutions.

The Commission calls upon the originators in the shadows as well as the performers of such a dirty mission to return to dialogue and democratic ways for the solutions to all matters of general interest."

Done in Yaounde, the 10 November 2017 Vice President

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