A strong delegation of members of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms, led by its Vice Chairman, Professor James Kobila, has set camp in Buea. The team is on a fact finding mission to investigate all allegations of human rights abuses in the region since the civil unrest following the strike actions taken by teachers and lawyers.
The commission is one half of a larger mission, with the other half being led by the Human rights commission chairman, Dr. Divine Banda leading investigations in the North West region.
Six out of the thirty members of the commission were present at a meeting with various stakeholders and government officials of the south west Region, at the Buea Council Town Hall to have a frank discussion with inhabitants of Buea living in the heart of the crisis, in an effort to have first-hand testimonies and concrete examples of violations suffered by the them.
Speaking, the South West regional secretary for the National Commission on Human rights and freedoms, NCHRF, Tambe Tiku Christopher, revealed that contrary to the opinion by a plethora of critics that the commission is heavily in favor of the government, it is a completely independent body that does its own investigations, determines where human rights have been trampled upon and renders findings to the courts for legal action to be taken on the perpetrators.
The members of the commission come from a wide spectrum of Cameroon’s society including Civil Society Organisations, the Cameroon Bar Association, workers’ trade unions and Penitentiary Administration. During interventions by attendees of the gathering, the issue of the severe violation of children’s rights was hammered upon due to their prolonged stay out of school for over 2 months.
Equally of major concern was the rape of a female UB student during the November strike and questions to find out if information circulating on social media announcing the death of the said girl was true. To this, the commission retorted that their investigations have confirmed the rape to have happened, but that the girl is alive and well.
Questions about the internet blackout in the North and South West Regions as well as the arbitrary arrest and detention of individuals sympathetic to the causes of the striking lawyers and teachers were equally posed.
The Vice chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms, Professor James Kobila, told reporters in an interview that it has come to the South West region in order for all parties, whether government of civil, to report all cases of violations of human rights over the past two months. He admitted to understanding that the grievances tabled to government by the Anglophones stem from deeply rooted problems but that their job is to identify the root causes and the individuals responsible. He said they would question some persons for better understanding of the problem and urged stake holders on both sides of the divide to respect the rights of the others.
The Commission equally has the task of visiting prisons and detention centers around the South West region to feel the reality of prisoners and inspect the conditions of detention. They are also to visit sites where violence took place, with promises of doing a thorough job and making sure that justice is served and law breakers are punished accordingly.