Lagos based rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday urged the African Union (AU) to suspend the rights of membership of Cameroon from the AU to put pressure on its government to end alleged torture and ill-treatment of 47 political activists.
The group in an open letter to the African Union Chairperson and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, urged him to "urgently call an Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) to suspend the rights of membership of Cameroon from the AU.
According to SERAP, the suspension will put pressure on the Cameroonian government to end alleged torture and ill-treatment of political activists forcibly returned to Cameroon by the Nigerian authorities, enforced disappearances, politically motivated trials, and gross and systematic violations of citizens' human rights in the country.
The organization also urged the AU to "maintain targeted travel sanctions and asset freezes against the authorities until they meet specific human rights and good governance benchmarks as well as collaborate with the United Nations and its agencies to maintain a coordinated global response to the human rights and humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.
In the letter signed by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale and obtained by The Guardian yesterday, the organization said: "Despite the massive violations of citizens' human rights, and the continued absence of accountability in Cameroon, the AU has largely remained on the side-lines.
Failure to act in the face of the gross and systematic violations by the authorities would seriously undermine the credibility of the AU and the legitimacy of its Constitutive Act, including its commitment to fight impunity as expressed in Articles
4(h) and (o) of the Act."
The organization said, "The AU Constitutive Act identifies respect for human rights, and the rule of law as universal values and requires all member states to promote and adhere to them.
By taking punitive action against the government of Cameroon for disregarding the fundamental principles of the AU, African leaders will be helping to achieve a positive resolution of the lingering human rights and humanitarian crisis in that country."