Issa Tchiroma Meets His Match As Amnesty International Says They Are Ready To Face Cameroon's Legal Threats Squarely

Issa Tchiroma Meets His Match As Amnesty International Says They Are Ready To Face Cameroon's Legal Threats Squarely
The Director for West and Central Africa of Amnesty International Alioune Tine has fired back at the Cameroon Government, following the ongoing saga relating to the recent reports of Amnesty International, on the violation of human rights  carried out by Cameroonian soldiers in the fight against Boko Haram.

Alioune Tine was reacting during an interview with Hurinews, a human rights specialized site, where he condemned with all his strength, the practices of the Cameroonian army, and the press outing of Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary on this. 

When asked about his impression on the reaction of the Cameroon government, following the report entitled: Secret torture chambers in Cameroon: "Violations of human rights and war crimes in the fight against Boko Haram", Alione had this to say:  "I was expecting a reaction in which the Government of Cameroon would try to refute the results of the research conducted by Amnesty International on the basis of counter-arguments with solid and concrete evidence. Unfortunately this was not  the case. I will also add that Amnesty International has on several occasions, given the government the opportunity to respond to the allegations, but the authorities never responded. I would have  been more satisfied if the Government actually had, and in real time responded to our inquiries sent long before the publication of this report.  Today they are trying to challenge our report  without argument. It is important for the Cameroonian public to understand that it is in the month of April, that is three months before the publication of the report, that we wrote  to the authorities, to present to them a summary of our findings, and have their own point of view, but unfortunately, we didn't get any reply".

Mr. Alioune said he personally led a delegation of Amnesty International to Yaounde from 20 to 26 May 2017 , to get the opinion of the Senior Public administrators on the outcome of Amnesty's research, which he said was still not yet published. But none of them agreed to meet them, despite the fact that they had sent many letters,  requesting for audience before their arrival in Cameroon.

Alioune further said to make matters worse, the government banned a press conference that Amnesty programmed for May 24, where they were to present more than 310 000 signatures from all over the world, calling on President Biya to release three students (Fomusoh Ivo and friends), sentenced to 1o years of imprisonment each, for 'exchanging Boko Haram pleasantries through SMS'.

He said during their research, they asked to meet with the President of the Republic, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Communication, the Minister of External Relations and other members of the security forces, but the  only the Minister of Communication and the Secretary General at the Ministry of Defense agreed to meet them at the end of February 2017

Shocked at the detailed description on the practice of torture in question during the meeting, the representative of the Ministry of Defense said it was not torture,  but simply a "thorough exploitation".

'We are not here to demoralize the Cameroonian army. The facts documented by Amnesty International should rather help the government to take actions towards ameliorating the functioning of the army. An army that tortures is not a good army'. Alioune Tine said

According to the spokesman of the Cameron Government, Amnesty International is an organization that works for the interests of Boko Haram in the objective of destabilizing Cameroon How do you respond to that?

"You know, the government spokesman has his role to try to refute the allegations by Amnesty International. Very few countries acknowledges the existence of violations that we document. But to accuse Amnesty International of serving the interests of a terrorist organization, whose crimes we have constantly denounced, is not only a counter-truth, but also an extremely grave accusation, scoped without any evidence.  There is this saying that goes:  'No matter how hard you try to hide something, the truth will always come out'. Unfortunately, I believe it is the desired effect, and it is not the best reply of the issue at stake, nor is there seriousness of the facts about what we publishedAlioune Tine  Answered.

Speaking on allegations that America had withdrawn its military support from Cameroon, following Amnesty's incriminating reports, Alioune refuted that Amnesty has never said the US had withdrawn its military cooperation with Cameroon, but what they rather said was: "Our researchers saw French military personnel in uniform at the base, but we cannot affirm if they are permanently on the site.  If the military personnel of international partners of Cameroon are aware of the practice of torture and illegal detention at Salak, the concerned States  are required to notify the Cameroonian authorities so that these actions should stop, and the alleged perpetrators of the crime should be punished". 

The Minister of Communication announced that there was an impending complaint against Amnesty International for having annexed in the report, satellite images unveiling certain positions of the Directorate General of External Research (secret services). How do you intend to defend yourself in case  he decides to execute his threats?.

"We are waiting to see the complain. If publishing a satellite image that everyone has access to has become a  crime, we are ready for Cameroon".

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