US slaps sanctions on Cameroon over rights abuses

Cameroonian president Paul Biya

Cameroonian president Paul Biya

from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) THE international community has been urged to follow the example set by the United States to slap sanctions on Cameroon following human rights violations.

Last week, the Donald Trump administration announced it intends to cut trade benefits for the Central African country by January 1, 2020.

Cameroon has thus lost privileged access to the US market offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

AGOA allows sub-Saharan African countries to export to the US without a customs duty

In his message to Congress, Trump said Cameroon had failed to address concerns regarding government forces’ persistent human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention and torture.

The violations have persisted in recent years as English-speaking communities demand independence from Cameroon, alleging marginalisation by the government of President Paul Biya.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, Human Rights Watch Senior Central Africa Researcher, said the US termination of the designation of Cameroon as a beneficiary country under AGOA should be a wake-up call to Biya’s government.

“It should stir action from other international partners to Cameroon to publicly address serious human rights concerns in the country,” Allegrozzi said.

US sanctions come despite Cameroon releasing hundreds of political prisoners, including prominent opposition party leader, Maurice Kamto.

This is the second time in a year the US has taken action on Cameroon.

In February, Washington scaled back its military assistance to Cameroon, also citing allegations of human rights abuses.

– CAJ News

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