Contra Nocendi International is deeply concerned about an incident that occurred in Buea, Cameroon on 6 February 2019. In the early morning hours armed militants entered a neighbourhood in Buea at around 3am. They spent the next three hours firing automatic weapons into the area and burning several vehicles, including taxis and private cars. The incident, understandably, startled the residents of the neighbourhood. Approximately an hour after the militants left, security forces entered the neighbourhood and started what has been reported as mass arrests.
We are deeply troubled by this report and condemn the use of force and fear tactics by the armed militants. The destruction of private property, the use of automatic weapons and the timing of the incident leads us to believe that the aim of the event was to strike fear in the neighbourhood. This was done clearly without regard to the rights or safety of the people of the neighbourhood. The government of Cameroon must take steps to protect the local population from such acts of violence.
We are also concerned by the report of the conduct of security forces in which members of the security forces reportedly acted without regard for whether detained persons had any real link the attack the security forces were responding to. Such haphazard approaches tend to not take proper regard for the rights of the individuals in question and can lead to mistrust in the security services on the part of the local population. Many innocent civilians in the predominately English speaking regions are being caught between the violence of the non-state actors and violence of security forces. Security forces must recognize this and take the opportunity to correct their approach. Citizens should be looking to their security services for protection and not hiding from them in fear.