Joint press release
Buea, Geneva – 26th October 2020
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)and the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) condemn theattack on a school in Cameroon’s war-torn Southwest Region. The attack provokedthe gruesome killing of at least six school children - one boy and five girls –while 10 others were seriously injured.
An unidentified armed group broke into the"Mother Francisca bilingual academy" school campus in Kumba town onSaturday morning and opened fire on the students. First testimonies indicate thatmembers of the separatist armed groups could be at the origin of thisunacceptable act of violence.
“This incident is another episode to add tothe countless horrific and gross violations of human rights and internationalhumanitarian law in our war-affected region. The deliberate targeting andkilling of children in their school is nothing less than a war crime thatshould be punished in accordance with national and international law”,declared Barrister Felix Nkongho, President of CHRDA.
The Anglophone crisis started in 2016 withpeaceful protests but morphed into a violent armed conflict that has now enteredits fourth year. The violence has killed thousands of civilians and displacedclose to 700,000 people. The different armed groups have systematically usedtorture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence against civilians. Repeatedcalls to an inclusive dialogue and ceasefire have been ignored by both warringparties.
“The judicial authorities must carry outinvestigations to identify, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of theseviolations. International and regional human rights mechanisms should provideadequate support to the Cameroonian government to help put an end to thiscrisis”, said Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.
The time has certainly come for a more resoluteengagement by the international community to help end the crisis. The upcomingsession of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights should hold aspecific session on this issue and adopt a resolution that could lead to a peacefulsolution to the conflict.
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The World Organisation AgainstTorture (OMCT) is the main global coalition of NGOs fighting torture and ill-treatment, with over 200 members in more than 90 countries. Its internationalsecretariat is based in Geneva, Switzerland.