A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claims that US authorities have carried out dozens of illegal deportations of Cameroonian asylum seekers. The latter were subsequently tortured and ill-treated on their return to Cameroon.
Dozens of deportations, contrary to the principle of non-refoulement, have targeted Cameroonian asylum seekers in the United States under the Biden administration. That's what it says a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) released Thursday.
If the NGO specifies that Cameroonian asylum seekers were systematically mistreated and sent back during the mandate of Donald Trump, things got worse under his successor. "The United States government has completely failed Cameroonians with credible asylum claims by returning them to the country they fled, as well as by mistreating people who were already traumatized before and during their deportation," Lauren said. Seibert, refugee and migrant rights researcher at HRW.
The NGO's report also describes the atrocious treatment that asylum seekers receive upon their return to Yaoundé. Secret detention, torture, rape… Cameroonian asylum seekers are accused of “destroying the image of Cameroon” or of “telling lies about the government” by their torturers, according to testimonies.
The blood of civilians
A damning report, among many others, against the Paul Biya regime, whose relations are strained with NGOs. Indeed, Yaoundé has suspended the activities of dozens of organizations, against a backdrop of accusations of abuse, particularly in the English-speaking region in the south where civilians are the first victims of skirmishes with the Ambazonian rebels, or in the already bruised north. by the terrorist threat.
Tensions between Yaoundé and international NGOs which, precisely, instead of putting an end to the accusations of the latter, prompted the NGOs to make even more critical reports. We notice it with this HRW report, supported by documents, photos, videos… but whose political dimension is barely veiled.
As a reminder, in Cameroon, the activities of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Amnesty International and Unicef are suspended. The NGOs would not have fulfilled the abusive conditions of “updating” their files between last November and December.
Over the past year, there have been increasing reports accusing Cameroonian law enforcement, military and political authorities of abuses against civilians. Cameroon now has more than two million displaced persons and refugees, at least half of whom live in Nigeria, Gabon, Chad or Congo. A more “affluent” minority finds a way to emigrate to Western countries, some of which apply for asylum.
Thinly Veiled State Crimes
Precisely, with the worsening, since 2016, of the situation in the English-speaking region, where the famous BIR of the Cameroonian army and the rebels of Ambazonia ignore human rights, as well as the terrorist threat of Boko Haram in the north of the country, asylum requests are easily justifiable for Cameroonians.
The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees states that "none of the signatory States shall in any way expel or return a refugee to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion”.
If, in the United States, the Trump administration acted openly against international law, US President Joe Biden had promised, among other things, to "restore the diplomatic standards neglected" by his predecessor. It was also a matter of respecting “equitable treatment vis-à-vis Africa”.
But it is nothing. In the end, Biden and Antony Blinken are not that different from Trump and his many secretaries of state. In the case of Cameroonian asylum seekers, if we count at least 150 sent back to Cameroon by the United States during the last year of Trump's mandate; in October 2021, under Biden, 90 asylum seekers were deported by Washington.
The testimonies of the latter, and the evidence they presented on their treatment in the United States, then in Cameroon, highlight an absolute disregard for human rights, accompanied by unprecedented violence.