Human Rights Watch calls on Cameroon to bring separatists disrupting education to justice

  • Human Rights Watch says armed separatist groups in English-speaking areas of Cameroon have been attacking schools, pupils and teachers.
  • A senior researcher says about 700 000 students had been denied access to education.
  • Separatist groups claim they aren’t behind the attacks, but researchers say there is strong evidence to the contrary.

News24 | Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Cameroon’s government to shift its focus from military-backed attacks to justice in its efforts to quell violence in the country’s Anglophone regions.

Research by HRW has found that children’s right to education in the English-speaking parts of Cameroon have been negatively impacted by armed separatist groups launching attacks on students, teachers, and schools.

The 131-page long report, titled “They Are Destroying Our Future: Armed Separatist Attacks on Students, Teachers, and Schools in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions”, says the English-speaking north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon had seen armed terror groups intimidating families into keeping their children out of school between March 2017 and November this year.

The report says this is done through killing, beating, abducting, threatening, and terrorising students, and education professionals, and parents. Schools are also looted, vandalised and burnt down.

The crisis in the English-speaking regions started in November 2016, when security forces beat up peaceful demonstrators led by teachers and lawyers protesting the perceived marginalisation of the country’s minority Anglophone education and legal systems, and their assimilation into the Francophone systems.

Armed separatist groups, seeking independence for the two English-speaking regions, have since emerged and grown, and education soon became a primary battleground.

“These attacks, the resulting fear, and the deteriorating security situation have caused school closures, with two out of three schools shut across the Anglophone regions, denying over 700,000 students access to education,” HRW said in a statement.

News24 spoke to Ilaria Allegrozzi, a senior Central Africa researcher at HRW, about the situation on the ground.

“Education has been used as a weapon by separatist groups trying to achieve political gains. Insecurity in both regions is another main concern, due to ongoing violence, counter-insurgency operations and attacks by separatist groups,” she said.

In coming up with the report, Allegrozzi said there were challenges linked to the safety of respondents and general access to information that was being blocked by separatist groups and state actors.

She said:

There are restrictions on access to the Anglophone regions and of information flow since the security and political crisis broke out in the Anglophone regions in late 2016. Authorities and separatist groups have systematically tried to control the information flow; authorities have also hindered access to the North-West and South-West regions to independent national and international monitors, including the Human Rights Watch senior researcher, and journalists.

To ensure their safety, HRW researchers conducted regular risk assessments, put in place mechanisms to protect those who decided to speak, including carrying out interviews in multiple safe locations, ensuring the accuracy of information by conducting remote research, which “we did by using multiple sources, different forms of material evidence, relying on a solid network of people on the ground”.

According to Allegrozzi, separatist groups deny being behind the attack on schools, although there’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

“Separatist groups have denied, in different ways, having carried out attacks against education, but our evidence shows the contrary, that they are responsible and should be held accountable. Authorities in Cameroon need to do more to address the current climate of impunity and focus on justice versus the military approach. They should arrest and prosecute those responsible instead of eliminating them in counter-insurgency operations,” she said.

An entire generation of Cameroonians were being robbed of their fundamental right to education, the advocacy group said.

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  1. The RIGHT TO LIFE is more important than the RIGHT TO EDUCATION.

    LRC TERRORISTS are perpetrating genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanty in SC.
    The present NEVER AGAIN GENERATION has the right to use all means available to protect their RIGHT TO LIFE.


  2. Lobsided justice, from HRW. We are all living witnesses to all that is happening
    and so, no one, should distort history. This is very important.

    • Allergic to ignorance

      Lol The black man and its irrational train of thought is one of the most amazing thing to witness. See I was saying this will eventually happen a few weeks and I was called all kind of names. I have another prediction a few years from now this whole movement will be labeled a terrorist organization. Remember this. See war is is almost an art that requires an insane level of skills just like politics. But you have been brainwashed by western liberals to believe that the idea of western freedom is a real thing lol

  3. HRW surely has a great appetite for foisting everything evil on the self-defense fighters! It reads like self-defense fighters are the only actors on scene. Such biased one-sided account explains why Ethiopia keeps HRW at a good distance!

    • Allergic to ignorance

      See what is happening in your brain right now is what I call a glitch in a matrix lol See the reason why you’re upset with this hr groups is because your whole life you you have been told by these same groups to fight the power, fight for freedom lol You ever asked yourself well who pay this groups to travel the world and push these agendas? What gives these people the right to tell people what freedom is? Do you know your definition of freedom could be different from someone else definition of freedom? See it’s all brainwashing and fluid idealism to convince you that the closer you become to a white ( British) the better you’ll become compare to the wanna be white (French) man ??

      • Allergic to ignorance,,,, the British have perfected and refined their domination instruments in a way their victims die to be recognised. The level of brainwash suffered by people like John dinga is beyond description.he is truly convinced that the British who invaded Africa, slaughtering millions of people for gold and free labor will create organizations in our interest.five hundred years of continuous humiliation followed by intense brainwash has left us with half breeds culturally uprooted without the least cretical thinking. Rationality is seen as evil by John dinga. He is convinced that he is an Anglo Saxon often calling me a fool when I say we should drop English for an African language like kiswahili.

  4. when you kidnap, behead and bomb your own people you think human rights watch is not seeing?. your ghost towns and school boycotts that you call for you think human rights don’t see?. amba na curse on anglophones.

    • amba na curse, so you are what,lazy man chop sardine and accept to be a slave,this is who u are

      • yes I will rather chop sardine than kidnap, bomb and kill my own brothers and parents in the name of a facebook country.

  5. @BAH ACHO Still waiting for you to start the revolution to impose kiswahili in my native village in manyu and in Cameroon in general.I am solidly behind u.What is your strategy? When do u intend to start?

    • KONGOSA,,,,, there are no two ways to be successful in such a project than bieng economically powerful. With the financial capacity to build new industrial zones and cities to be inhabited by those working in the industrial zones. it will be possible to impose Kiswahili making it obligatory. Once it is tied to the lifelyhood of people.once it takes root I shall then expand quickly absorbing more and more people as the language will be closely associated to economic prosperity. for now I am currently experimenting the crops that will be used as raw materials to feed the industries while also working on new sources of energy that will power the industrial zones.

  6. @nelson ”yes I will rather chop sardine than kidnap, bomb and kill my own brothers and parents in the name of a facebook country.”…Wow,so u rather chop sardine and kill Ambasonians who want to remove the sardine from your mouth just in the name of keeping a one and indivisible French vasal state, than to kidnap and bomb your brothers in the name of a facebook country?
    You have made the right choice my brother. Life is all about choices…Vive le Cameroun indivisible….