Boko Haram suspects tortured in Cameroon, Amnesty says

Bruno Cirelli
Luglio 20, 2017

Though Boko Haram originated in Nigeria, the group - which is affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) - has carried out frequent attacks in Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Dozens of Boko Haram suspects have died in Cameroon custody, rights group Amnesty International said Thursday, with security forces brutally torturing them in the fight against the jihadist group.

"To date, US Africa Command has not received any reports of human rights abuses by Cameroonian forces at either of these locations", Robyn Mack, a spokeswoman at the US military's Africa Command, said in a statement.

"But, nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians, who are often arrested without any evidence and forced to endure unimaginable pain", Tine said.

Tine condemned the "horrific violations" by the Cameroon forces which amount to "war crimes".

"They asked me to tell them if I knew members of Boko Haram", Amnesty cited a prisoner as saying.

Amnesty said it had unearthed 101 cases of secret detention and documented at least 24 different types of torture at more than 20 different sites in Cameroon between 2013 and 2017.

The majority of victims were men aged between 18 and 45 and from the Far North region, which has been repeatedly attacked by suicide and bomb attacks.

Torture methods included beating suspects with an electric cable while having water thrown on them, beatings to secure confessions and the use of excruciating stress positions.

The allegations - similar to those made against the military in Nigeria - are not the first against Cameroon, which has been criticized before for its heavy-handed crackdown.

A Radio France Internationale reporter also received a 10-year prison term for allegedly supporting the jihadists.

The new report titled "Cameroon's secret torture chambers: human rights violations and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram", is based on testimonies from several people, and was corroborated by photographic and video evidence, including satellite imagery.

That includes an unnamed drone operation over the restive border region with Nigeria, run from a base in the northern city of Garoua.

It urged the two governments to investigate whether their military personnel knew that torture was taking place on the site, and whether or not their assistance "has contributed to the commission of these crimes and violations".

Tine said Washington and other worldwide partners "should investigate the degree to which their personnel were aware of illegal detention and torture at the Salak base". "They beat us like this for four days".

The Cameroonian authorities refused to provide a response, even after receiving a letter from Amnesty International written in April 2017, in which the human rights organization shared its findings.

French Defence Ministry officials did not immediately comment.

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