An Assigned Republican Mission

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The Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), Cameroon’s elite unit of the Defence and Security Forces, is once more under the microscopic analysis of the International media. Irked by the accusations of suspected "abuses in secret chamber of torture" committed by elements of this elite force, the Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, government's Spokesperson, dismissed with the last energy such reports as "absolutely unfounded." Minister Sadi states inter alia that the Rapid Intervention Battalion is a "strong and credible army whose main credo, as we know, lies on the respect of republican institutions." According to the Communication boss, it is "an elite unit that has always been distinguished by the quality of its troops, its bravery, its efficiency and its achievements in all theatres of operations where it has been called to action."

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This is not the first time an international media organ is publishing a report blaming the Cameroonian forces, notably the BIR of human rights violation marked by extrajudicial executions and excessive use of force among others. Similar publications have equally come from international human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But all these reports have been debunked by Cameroonian authorities. Government considers all these as moves to tarnish the image of the Cameroonian army which continues to work along the realms of republican values. No human action is perfect, the government has been honest enough to underscore this, but as the Minister of Communication stated in his declaration last Sunday, September 22, "collateral damage recorded from time to time, as is the case everywhere else in the World under such circumstances, cannot in any way overshadow the merits of republican institution of which we have every reason to be proud of."

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Government in its reaction has openly expressed worry to the fact that such reports turn to down play violations committed by armed groups. In the same vein, it finds it difficult to understand why international bodies that file out such reports refuse to acknowledge the positive results recorded by the Rapid Intervention Battalion. Created in 2001 on the heels of rising terrorists attacks in the Far North Region, the BIR has been deployed when need be on several fronts including, of recent, the uprising in the North West and South West Regions where its elements have been assigned to execute the mission for which it was created, that of "preserving the security of the population and their property and the defence of peace and territorial integrity of Cameroon."

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In effect, government hinges its argument in defence of BIR on the social actions the elite force has so far carried out on the field in favour of the population in the regions hard hit by war and insecurity. Talk of BIR and some will not hesitate to take their minds to actions such as the unit's support to the health and safety of the populations of the affected regions, support for the education of young learners in these regions, construction of buildings and boreholes for the benefit of the population, distribution of food aid and special assistance to various disadvantaged social groups and vulnerable people. Such social actions equally tell of the army as an important arm of development that must work within the limits of its assigned mission.

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