The European Business Council for Africa

Speech delivered by Commissioner for Equality, Helena Dalli, on the situation in the country

Thank you President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

The European Union is following closely the human rights situation in Cameroon, a country situated in a fragile region, taking its due share of the burden, hosting refugees fleeing from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.

There are two persistent violent crises within Cameroon, in the so-called 'Anglophone regions' and in the Far North.

Firstly, separatist claims in the predominantly Anglophone regions of the North-West and South-West have led to a situation where the civilian population is taken hostage in the fight between numerous, splintered non-state armed groups and the Cameroonian security forces.

This has led to extreme violence, insecurity, human rights violations and a humanitarian crisis. Illegal armed groups have been trying to impose an irresponsible school boycott for years now and punish any collaboration with central authorities. On the other side, state security forces sometimes use disproportionate force to respond. The European Union has welcomed efforts by Cameroonian authorities to fight impunity among its security forces and to restore trust with the population, although still more can be done.

Together with its Member States and international partners, the European Union has consistently called for an inclusive dialogue to solve the crisis.

Secondly, in the Far North region, incursion of terrorists and armed groups also cause violence and violation of human rights. Cameroon fights against Boko Haram and ISWAP (Islamic State's West Africa Province) and gets the support of the EU through the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF). The European Union also provides support by investing in the socio-economic development of the region and addresses the root causes of extremism through various actions aiming at strengthening the humanitarian-development peace nexus.

Thirdly, the European Union also encourages Cameroonian authorities to avoid the excessive use of preventive detention as the non-respect of the habeas corpus principles enshrined in the Constitution of the country lead to abuses and undermines the population’s trust in the judiciary.

Finally, the European Union plays a recognised role in Cameroon in promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through its cooperation with civil society and human rights defenders.

Thank you.

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