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Engel Statement Regarding Allegations of Human Rights Violations at Secret Detention Sites in Cameroon

Jul 21, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding Amnesty International’s recent report on torture at secret detention facilities in Cameroon:

“While I support U.S. efforts to provide robust assistance to Cameroon to counter the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, I am deeply concerned about the alleged conduct of the Cameroonian security forces as detailed in this report.  As we have seen in other parts of the world, this sort of heavy-handed response by a country’s security and intelligence services can often have the unintended consequence of exacerbating the threat we are attempting to counter in the first place.

“This report details torture, including sleep deprivation and the pervasive use of stress positions, as well as allegations that Cameroonian citizens have been arbitrarily detained and held incommunicado under suspicion of supporting Boko Haram. Sadly, this report echoes concerns in the State Department’s 2016 Human Rights Report, which indicates that this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed head on.

“I call on the Cameroonian government to thoroughly and transparently investigate these allegations and if necessary, prosecute the perpetrators and hold them accountable. In addition, I would welcome any measures the government plans to take to close these secret detention facilities and ensure that its treatment of Cameroonian citizens is in line with national and international law.”

Background:

Since 2014, Boko Haram has expanded its attacks outside of northeastern Nigeria and has conducted attacks in northern Cameroon. In October 2015, the U.S. government announced that it was deploying up to 300 troops to assist the regional effort to counter Boko Haram with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

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