Suspension of Cameroon From AGOA : Clarifications From Government
Hereunder is a statement of Communication Minister, Rene Emmanuel Sadi, during a press briefing in Yaounde yesterday November 18, 2019.
“Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
On October 31, 2019, the President of the United States of America informed the Congress of the United State of his intent to terminate the designation of Cameroon from the list of the beneficiary countries of the “African Growth and Opportunity Act”, (AGOA), as of January 1, 2020.
This decision, according to the U.S. Head of State, is due to the fact that “the Government of Cameroon currently engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”.
Moreover, and still according to the President of the United States, our country is criticized for “failing to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.”
In this respect, it should primarily be underscored that the Government of Cameroon considers that, in as much as Cameroon’s eligibility for AGOA resulted from a sovereign decision of the United States Government, the same goes with the possible decision of that Government to terminate the designation of Cameroon as a beneficiary of this Act falling within the confine of an act of sovereignty that no one can challenge.
However, what is questionable in our opinion is the excuses and reasons put forward to explain or justify the will of the U.S. Government.
There is a clear case to be made in that the reasons put forward to justify the decision envisaged by the American authorities hardly match with the truth of facts on the ground.
They translate in our opinion:
either ignorance, or inadequate understanding of the actual situation, as it has prevailed and still prevails in the North-West and South-West;
or a deliberate act to ignore this reality;
or else a version of facts thwarted by ill-fated observers, or by some fellow citizens who no longer hide their unpatriotic plot to tarnish the image of their Country, to partition or destabilize the country, and also working to undermine Cameroon’s friendly and cooperation ties with its foreign partners, including the United States of America.
In any case, it is important to recall the major reasons that compelled the Government of the Republic to ensure a consistent presence of our Defence and Security Forces in the North-West and South-West Regions, namely:
To preserve the territorial integrity of Cameroon against outlawed separatists who took up arms against the Republic;
To ensure the security of persons and property in the Regions concerned. While recalling that these are the sovereign missions to which no Government worthy of that name can escape, the Government reaffirms that these missions have been fulfilled and will continue to be fulfilled by the elements of our Defence and Security Forces in all responsibility, with tact and professionalism and with due respect of human rights.
Conversely, since the outbreak of the crisis in the North-West and South-West Regions, so many unbearable abuses and offences have been committed not only against elements of national Defence and Security Forces, but also against civilians, entire families, citizens of all ages and all genders.
There are also barbaric and irresponsible acts of the destruction of economic and social amenities, such as hospitals, schools, and many other large-scale investments that once contributed to the development of the North-West and South-West Regions, on the one hand, and to the creation of many jobs and the improvement of the living conditions of the population, on the other hand.
Obviously, it would really be a tedious task to recall these many atrocities. But, how could we abstain from mentioning some of the heinous acts perpetrated by these hordes of secessionists, acts that deeply struck and upset us as they crossed the thresholds of horror and cruelty.
We can mention:
The beheading of Mrs. Florence AYAFOR, on September 29, 2019, by men claiming to belong to an imaginary Republic of Ambazonia;
The burial of a woman alive in Batibo in the Momo Division;
The macabre discovery on October 20, 2019, of the Police Officer, Paul WANE, on duty in the city of Bamenda, whose head flew so awfully;
The fire incident at the Kumba District hospital, a few months ago, leaving 04 people dead, with 02 people burned alive in their hospital beds;
The fire incident recorded at the Tole Health Centre in the South-West Region in the night of October 30 to 31, 2019, which resulted in huge material damage;
The establishment of “Ghost Towns” and the boycott of schools and hospitals, which is depriving hundreds of thousands of Cameroonian youths from having access to education and the right to education, as well as depriving the vast majority of the population of access to basic health care.
These are the facts, to name just a few, as horrific and harmful as they may be to the families, to the populations of the North-West and South-West regions, and to Cameroon as a whole.
Faced with these situations, one would have expected the world's greatest power to add its voice, one of the most important in the world for that matter, to the wide international disapproval and the string of condemnations that these shameful and heinous acts have caused.
In fact, how can they, on the one hand, accuse the Cameroonian Defence and Security Forces of human rights violations, as well as the Government of the Republic, of “failing to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian Security Forces including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture”, and, on the other hand, remain insensitive and silent in the face of unspeakable atrocities committed on a daily basis by secessionist armed groups in the North-West and South-West?
Similarly, how can we imagine that a republican army, conscious of the exigencies of its mission and fully aware of its responsibilities with regards to the protection of its citizens and their property, and in the difficult conditions that we know, and more importantly at the cost of heavy sacrifices, may deliberately and paradoxically inflict inhuman and degrading treatment to populations it is called to defend, protect and secure?
To believe it, to think of it, to affirm it, as is clear from the accusations of the President of the United States of America, is nothing less than an unfair trial against an army that has always, as we reaffirm it unambiguously, assumed its mission in strict compliance with the conventions and the essential rules imposed by the exercise of the military profession, even if we are here faced with a case of asymmetrical confrontation, between a republican army entitled to the legitimate use of force, and lawless armed bands who took arms against their Country and the Republic.
The incrimination, even the stigmatization of our Defence and Security Forces, are all the more incomprehensible because, in addition to protecting the citizens, they are involved in many civilian-military actions, for the benefit of the populations in the Regions concerned.
Without being exhaustive, permit me to name a few:
- Reconstruction of bridges, hospitals and other buildings destroyed by secessionist separatists,
- Similarly, most elements of the Defence and Security Forces, with multiple qualifications, are deployed within schools to supervise students, as instructors or teachers, especially in localities where teachers have become scarce due to security challenges.
Other examples include:
- The multifaceted support provided by elements of the National Defence and Security Forces, not only in terms of health and security to the benefit of populations of the affecte...
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