WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Ma.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Or.) introduced S. Res. 292, a resolution that calls on the Government of Cameroon and armed separatist groups to respect the human rights of all Cameroonian citizens, to end all violence, and to pursue an inclusive dialogue to resolve the conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions.
Since the outbreak of violence in 2016, Cameroon’s security forces have been credibly accused of grave human rights abuses, from suppressing the basic freedoms of expression and assembly, and arbitrarily detaining those who challenge the President’s authority, to torture and extrajudicial killings. Human Rights Watch has documented extensive burning of villages by members of the security forces in the last two years in both the Northwest and Southwest regions, as well as rampant killings of civilians and sexual violence. According to a July 22 Human Rights Watch report, Cameroonian security forces have killed at least four civilians and raped one woman since mid-June alone during their security operations in the Northwest region.
“America’s strength is in our values. We have an obligation to call out instances of human rights violations wherever they happen. The situation in Cameroon is untenable. Our resolution encourages all parties to the conflict to uphold the rule of law and prioritize respect for human rights for all Cameroonians — including political, religious, independent media and civil society leaders – over his desire to hold onto power by any means necessary,” said Senator Cardin. “The conflict in Cameroon greatly impacts Americans here in the United States. Whether they are Americans with loved ones affected by the conflict, those who have traveled here to escape the conflict, or simply those of us who understand that being silent on issues of human rights is nothing short of complicity.
“America has a moral imperative to stand up and defend basic human rights at home and abroad. Our resolution calls on the government of Cameroon to protect human rights for Cameroonians, end religious persecution and other abuses, and uphold the rule of law,” said Senator Young.
The resolution urges all parties to the Anglophone conflict in Cameroon, including political opposition groups, to—
- agree to an immediate ceasefire;
- guarantee unfettered humanitarian assistance;
- exercise restraint and ensure that protests remain peaceful; and
- engage in inclusive dialogue with civil society to get to a political solution that respects the rights and freedoms of the people of Cameroon.