from ROSY SADOU in Yaoundé, Cameroon
YAOUNDE, (CAJ News) – THE slow pace of the trial of over 20 people accused of killing 21 civilians in Cameroon’s North-West region raises concerns about the efficiency of the justice system.
It mars the ability to deliver reparations to victims.
The 21 victims were killed exactly two years ago in Ngarbuh, where English speakers are demanding autonomy.
Lack of progress is compounded by the limited opportunity for access and participation by victims’ families, lack of probative witnesses and that senior officers with command responsibility have not been arrested or charged.
The only witnesses so far did not see the killings and claimed the victims were separatist fighters.
Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said when the trial started, it was welcomed as a step toward justice and tackling impunity for military abuses in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.
“But two years after the massacre, victims and their families are still awaiting justice, while security forces have continued to commit serious human rights violations.”
The Ngarbuh killings were one of the Cameroonian security forces’ worst atrocities since the crisis in the country’s Anglophone regions began in late 2016.
The government of President Paul Biya initially denied that its security forces were responsible.
However, following international pressure, Biya established a commission of inquiry on March 1, 2020.
The government then admitted that its security forces bore some responsibility.
It announced the arrest of two soldiers and a gendarme in June 2020.
– CAJ News