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Sunday, September 20, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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Barrow and boldness

Dear editor,

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Boldness. Because he’s been so lacking of it and because we’ve been so much in anticipation of it, there is now the tendency to giddy up ourselves each time President Barrow shows some glimpses of audacity in his handling of national affairs.
So we are at it again. Many are calling Barrow’s cabinet reshuffle a bold move, an earth-shattering boldness. I see none. This is no boldness. Boldness is when you fire your entire cabinet, because nothing was working, and bring in technocrats drawn mainly from civil society.

There is nothing to account for the replacing of Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang with Ousainou Darboe as vice-president other than the perpetuation of self-entitlement. I was never a fan of Mrs Tambajang. The way she was handed the job was unmistakably flagrant. It was a wrapped gift handed to her, after a long and patient wait, as if there weren’t any other Gambians qualified for the post.
And now Darboe. What does he bring to the table? Better yet, how did he get to be vice-president other than because it was a reward, the personification of self-entitlement. Just because.

With the rest of the cabinet changes, it is neither here nor there. Appointing a former Jammeh cabinet member, who has faced the commission of inquiry, as finance minister, a former youth and sports minister, and a seriously incompetent one at that, as presidential adviser. Please.
These new cabinet changes are not the embodiment of oomph and vision and merit. Boldness is not the word.
Under Barrow, we are a nation still yearning for leadership. Competent leadership.

Cherno Baba Jallow
New York City

Stop the human rights violations in South-west and North-west regions of Cameroon now: a call on all relevant stakeholders

Dear editor,

Since 2016, the human rights situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon has been deteriorating. It all started with peaceful protests organised by lawyers, teachers and students in the region demanding for the posting of Anglophone Cameroonians to key positions in the judiciary, civil service and educational institutions. The state responded with brutal force killing at least 10 people and injuring hundreds. This crackdown increased agitation in the region and further calls for reform and even secession. The government militarised the area and conducted series of operations against protesters killing even more people. Amnesty International has reported arson attacks, torture, incommunicado detentions, arbitrary and extra-judicial executions, murder and other in human acts against civilians. These atrocities are committed by both the Cameroon security forces and armed separatist movements. The end of 2017 to date has seen more than 150,000 people being internally displaced and over 20,000 fleeing to neighbouring Nigeria in the wake of increased violence in the region. Cameroon is edging closer to civil war every day as the world watches in silence.

In light of the above human rights violations currently unfolding in Southern Cameroon, we urge the government of Cameroon to abide by its obligations as a state party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. We also urge the government to ensure accountability by conducting prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of human rights violations as well as prevent arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and death in custody. We also urge the government to avoid excessive and unnecessary use of force, especially when dealing with protests. We urge the government to also resort to solving the conflict in Southern Cameroon through meaningful engagement so as to find lasting solution to the crisis.
The Cameroonian government has failed in its responsibility to protect its citizens from grave human rights abuses. Under article 4(h) of the AU Constitutive Act, the AU has the responsibility to intervene in grave circumstances such as crimes against humanity. This is another opportunity for the AU to demonstrate its capacity to apply African solutions to African problems. As it is commonly said, ‘without peace, development is not possible; and without development, peace is not durable.’ We therefore call on the AU and the UN to undertake fact finding country visits to Cameroon.

Where a State is seen to be unable or unwilling to protect its people from human rights violations, the international community has the responsibility to come in and protect the people. In order to prevent an escalation of the current situation in Cameroon into one of anarchy, chaos and armed conflict that could threaten international peace and security, urgent action must be taken immediately to arrest the situation. Like Martin Luther King Jr. rightly posited, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’
Basiru Bah, Essa Njie, Theophilus Michael Odaudu and Urerimam Raymond Shamaki on behalf of the 2018 class of the master’s programme in human rights and democratisation in Africa (Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)
[For the CHR’s press release on the human rights violations in Cameroon, please click on the link below: http://www.chr.up.ac.za/index.php/about-the-cameroon-campaign.html]

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