Amnesty International has published a new shocking report in which it says more than 100 people have been tortured by Cameroon’s security forces and held incommunicado in the past four years after being accused of having links to the extremist group Boko Haram.
“Detainees were severely beaten with various objects including electric cables, machetes and wooden sticks,” the report said, adding that they were also suspended from poles and subjected to drowning, and that many were deprived of food, water and medical care. In most cases, people were held on little or no evidence. More than 30 people interviewed said they had witnessed deaths after torture.
According to the report, suspects are usually detained after attacks by Boko Haram, whose insurgency has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced millions in Nigeria and nearby countries, including Cameroon.
The deadly armed Islamic sect Boko Haram has killed over 1,500 civilians in the Far North region of Cameroon, through a series of brutal and often indiscriminate attacks, in addition to its kidnapping of women and girls and its widespread looting and destruction of property, Amnesty said.
Amnesty has called on Cameroon’s government to end incommunicado detention and investigate all allegations of torture and other cruel treatment. Cameroon’s government has not yet responded to the report.
Most of the 101 cases investigated by Amnesty involved men 18 to 45 years old, though it documented the mistreatment of women, children and people with mental and physical disabilities.
Several countries provide military aid to Cameroon, including the United States and France. Amnesty called on both countries to investigate whether their personnel were aware of the torture.
A letter from the American Embassy in Cameroon to Amnesty said that it took such allegations seriously, and that the United States did not provide aid to any security unit if it had “credible information that such a unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”