HRW Accuses Cameroon Of Torturing Over 100 Prisoners

Channels Television  
Updated August 20, 2019


Cameroonian authorities detained and tortured more than 100 prisoners, including suspected members of the country’s anglophone separatist movement, after a jail riot last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Tuesday.

The prisoners were taken to a military detention facility the morning after rioting broke out in the Central Prison in the capital Yaounde on July 22, the rights group said.

They were held incommunicado, beaten by gendarmes and guards and interrogated at gunpoint, it said, citing interviews with 14 detainees and several lawyers.

“The gendarmes put a piece of cloth on my nose and beat me. I was tortured like this, beaten badly several times on my legs and back,” HRW said, quoting a 37-year-old man from the city of Bamenda.

The rioting in Central Prison had been sparked by anger at overcrowding, living conditions and delays in bringing detainees’ cases to court, HRW said.

Many of those held there were suspected anglophone rebels, whose movement has declared a separate state for English-speaking rebels in the majority francophone country, its report said.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in violence between separatists and security forces in the anglophone regions since October 2017, according to an independent toll.

Others at the Central Prison were members of the opposition party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC), according to HRW.

According to HRW, “at least 100” were taken to a facility called the State Defence Secretariat (SED), where the abuse occurred. They were held between July 23 and August 4, it said.

On August 3, the government said that 244 prisoners had been held in connection with the unrest.

Communication Minister Emmanuel Sadi said detainees were being held “in line with legal procedure, with the utmost respect for the law.” Several of them had been found in possession of knives, he maintained.