Prospects and Challenges of Human Right in National Armed conflicts
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Peace is not a natural attribute of man. Disputes and crisis are bound to occur; States just like man is conflict-prone. The German government and the traditional Douala chiefs signed a treaty in July 1884, establishing a protectorate called Kamerun.
Its territories were shared following the German defeat at the end of the First World War. The League of Nations appointed France and Britain as joint trustees of Kamerun.
The Anglophone problem as well as several other weaknesses in present-day Cameroon has its roots in the colonial period, the process leading to the reunification of Cameroon is the heart of the Anglophone crisis.
The then Southern Cameroons or West Cameroon made of English speakers/Anglophones and La Republique Du Cameroun/East Cameroun made of French Speakers/francophone used to be two states independent from each other until they were united in 1961 with assurances of power-sharing and rights for the English speakers.
The 1961 constitution instituted a bijural legal system largely dependent on the colonial past. The autocratic nature of Ahidjo’s regime helps to explain why the inhabitants of Cameroon voted massively for the draft constitution, and hence the immediate establishment of the United Republic of Cameroon
However, disagreements have continued about economic and political marginalization, outright invasion and erosion of the regions’ common law legal system, and the francozation of education for Anglophones, who are English speakers in the North West and South-West regions of the country.
The right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right. Anglophones soon made use of this as a means to remind the Biya regime of their longstanding plights.
Longstanding grievances then flared In October 2016 when lawyers from the North West and South-West regions of Cameroon went on strike, protesting the elimination of English-language judges and procedures in Anglophone courts and the erosion of the common law system more generally. A few weeks later, English-speaking teachers joined the protests with their own grievances. Several of the protests were led by the Cameroon Anglophone Civil
Society Consortium (CACSC) and the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC), civil society groups exercising their rights to expression and peaceful assembly.
However, what started as a peaceful protest by lawyers and teachers have today degenerated into a regional conflict that has brought suffering and fear to millions and resulted in thousands of deaths.
The death toll went on a rise on September 22 and October when Anglophone separatists symbolically proclaimed an independent state of “Ambazonia” on October 1, 2017, worsening the crisis and intensifying the military intervention in the regions.
In the months that followed, peaceful strikes by Anglophone lawyers and teachers in the streets and on university campuses were met by increasing violence by Cameroonian security forces, sparking riots and attacks by the armed local defence and secessionist groups.
Incidents of excessive force by security forces were reported, including firing live ammunition into crowds and residential streets, severe beatings of public protestors, dozens of arrests, extrajudicial killings, and reports of security forces breaking into the homes of suspected secessionists and their families.
This chapter introduces and lays a brief background that shows how the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon has evolved from a mere crisis to a non-international armed conflict with profound human rights violations and I the statement of the problem relating to the study, the significance of the study, the objectives set out, the research methodology employed and the scope of the subject.
Worthy of note is that this research would lay particular emphasis on the human rights aspects of the conflict.
Since the end of the Cold War, non-international armed conﬂict, such as civil wars, have been on the rise. They are now the most predominant form of conﬂict. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law are common in many armed conﬂict.
Some of these violations may even constitute genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity in certain circumstances. Situations of armed conﬂict have raised a series of challenges concerning the implementation of the specific protections guaranteed by both bodies of law and their prospects are doubted for tomorrow.
Human-rights violations by Cameroonian Armed Forces against local populations have already tainted the success of the operation against Boko Haram. The harsh suppression of separatist activities (both peaceful and violent alike) in southern Cameroon suggests that the government’s response to dissent is unlikely to change soon.
There have been allegations of gross human rights violations and atrocities committed by warring factions such as burning of houses, villages, palaces, schools and hospitals, amputation of body parts, and extrajudicial killings by both Ambazonian Fighters and the Cameroonian military.
It is today alleged by some Human Right Actors that the human rights violations have surmounted to crimes against humanity and that this has taken place in violation of the Republic of Cameroon’s own constitution, international conventions to which it is a State Party, and customary international law.
The Global Centre for the Responsibility to protect places Cameroonian populations at imminent risk and has also signalled evidence of crimes against humanity.
Therefore amidst the ongoing conflict, it is evident that the prospects of human rights in Cameroon is something to worry about if one were to consider the grave challenges faced by human rights actors to ensure the implementation of human rights during a non-international armed conflict like the one in the restive Anglophone regions.
War has always been at the corridors of human existence. Most often human ingenuity and struggle for power on interest have fragmented the society into different social groupings with a common interest with each fragment trying to maximize her interest over one another.
No doubt we find nations and states today. But even within those states or nations, there are struggles by different entities that in the course of that union either direct tramples or violate the rights and interests of others.
As a result, problems emerge which if not properly handled will develop into a full-blown war. Of course, this is typical of the ongoing armed conflict in Anglophone.
There are allegations of atrocious human rights violations in the restive Anglophone regions of Cameroon to have been perpetrated by both the Cameroon military and the self-declared state of Ambazonia defence forces commonly referred to as Amba Boys.
Houses of innocent civilians, hospitals, holy sites, schools and markets have been razed. There have been extrajudicial killings, rapes, targeted killings etc. Human rights actors have problems with access to assist civilians affected by the war.
Therefore, there are reasons to believe that the state of Cameroon and armed groups are either failing to respect or enforce the rules of engagement during non-international armed conflict and other international human rights conventions duly ratified. This status quo is therefore something that makes the prospects of human rights in the region questionable.
This research seeks to answer the following questions:
- What led to the emergence of a non-international armed conflict in the Anglophone Regions?
- To what extent has the state of Cameroon commit to enforcing and respecting the international human rights convention duly ratified by her in the ongoing non-international armed conflict in the Anglophone regions?
- What are the problems faced by state and non-state human rights actors in the protection of human rights during armed conflicts?
- What are the various areas of rights violations and which faction warring factions are heavily involved?
- Are the rules of engagement during non-international armed conflicts respected by factions involved in the ongoing armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon?
- What are the possible recommendations on the prospects and challenges of human rights during non-international armed conflict?