MINISTÈRE DE LA COMMUNICATION
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATION
GOVERNMENT’S REACTION TO ALLEGED EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS ATTRIBUTED TO CAMEROONIAN DEFENCE AND SECURITY FORCES
BY H.E. ISSA TCHIROMA BAKARY
MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION
Yaoundé, 20 July2018
Distinguished Journalists, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Head of State, His Excellency Paul BIYA, the Government and the entire Cameroonian people, were deeply shocked and outraged by the atrocity of the images contained in a video recently circulated on social media, and which shows scenes of extrajudicial executions committed on women and young children by some men dressed in military attires.
These are gruesome, inhumane and unacceptable acts and which cannot be justified on any grounds.
Some national and international organizations, notably Amnesty International, have pointed an accusing finger at the Cameroonian Army. I would like to note that, as the investigations stand at present, no evidence of the involvement of the Cameroonian military in the incriminated acts has so far been provided.
At this level, some observations can be made:
- There exist for the same scenes, a video with the same images, accusing the military of a West African country. In a statement, the Government of that country has debunked these accusations. We have taken note of this.
- However, one thing is clear from these facts: the existence of two videos with comments where the sound tracks incriminate two different countries implies that at least one of these videos has been tampered with. The same facts cannot exactly occur in two different countries.
- In this context, it is not excluded that in the future, the same video could resurface, incriminating other countries. Caution should therefore be taken before pointing accusing fingers at anyone.
- In addition, Amnesty International’s accusations are based on the weapons used in this video to incriminate the Cameroonian Army. From the analysis of the images, it appears that the weapons used are of AK 47 type, commonly called KALACHNIKOV, widespread in Africa, and found in the hands of both regular Armies and criminal gangs.
- As for the nicknames (Cobra and Tcho-Tcho) used in the video, these identifiers do not refer to anything in the Cameroonian army.
- With regard to the landscapes to which Amnesty also refers in concluding that the events are taking place in the Northern Region of Cameroon, it should be pointed out that such landscapes are not exclusive to Cameroon but are rather typical of the Sahelo-Sahelian area in general.
- With regard to the attiresof the perpetrators of these abuses, they are not the ones used by the staff of the military accused by Amnesty International. Moreover, it appears not only that these authors are not uniformly dressed, but in addition, the outfits observed in the video are widely spread and put up by both the military and by all other individuals. These attires are often subject to open sale in the market.
All in all, the arguments used to incriminate our Army are ungrounded and full of hasty accusations.
We can ask ourselves what could be the motivations behind the relentless indictment of our Army by some NGO, whereas its professionalism is widely acknowledged.
The Cameroonian Army is a disciplined, patriotic, and republican army. Its mission is to defend our territorial integrity. It does so in all professionalism and respect for human rights. The Cameroonian Army is at war against terrorists and not against women and children.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We cannot however exclude that like everywhere else in the world, there may be blunders in a fighting context.
In this regard, the system in place in Cameroon provides that such acts be systematically subject to investigations which, if necessary, lead to appropriate punishments.
The Head of State, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has to this effect prescribed the zero tolerance principle.
Coming back to the video, and owing to the gravity and intolerability of the facts contained therein, the Head of State has ordered the opening of a thorough investigation to shed light on this case. In case of proven facts, the authors will be arrested, tried and severely sanctioned.
Pursuant to these Special Instructions of the Head of State, the Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defense has set up a commission of inquiry.
Anyone with information that may contribute to the manifestation of the truth and to identify the perpetrators is requested to contact the said Commission using the following phone numbers 222 23 43 84 ou 222 22 64 97.
Thank you for your kind attention.