International rights group, Amnesty International (AI), says personnel of the Cameroonian army are responsible for the extrajudicial execution of two women and two children supposedly in the country’s Far North region.
AI said expert analysis and evidence it had gathered on the said footage showed that the men involved in the execution were part of Cameroon’s security set up.
They disputed what they termed a hasty government position that there was a possibility that the widely shared footage of the execution could be as a result of ‘fake news’ and propaganda.
In a statement issued on Thursday (July 12), the group said: “While an investigation has now been announced, the Ministry of Communication earlier dismissed video footage of the killings as “fake news”.
“Extensive analysis of the weapons, dialogue and uniforms that feature in the video, paired with digital verification techniques and testimonies taken from the ground, all strongly suggest that the perpetrators of the executions are Cameroonian soldiers.”
Samira Daoud, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s West Africa office stressed the need for an impartial probe into the video which gained huge social media traction and outrage. “The Cameroonian authorities’ initial claim that this shocking video is fake simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
“We can provide credible evidence to the contrary. Given the gravity of these horrific acts – the cold-blooded and calculated slaughter of women and young children – these hasty and dismissive denials cast serious doubt over whether any investigation will be genuine,”
“It is imperative that a proper, impartial investigation is undertaken and those responsible for these abhorrent acts are brought to justice.”
The Amnesty report detailed the nature of weapons used in the execution and stressed that a particular gun, the Galil, was known to be used among a samll subset of the Cameroon Army. It added even though the time the footage was recorded remained unknown, it was possibly shot in the Mayo Tsanaga area of the Far North region.
The Cameroonian security forces are engaged in the anti-terrorism combat against Boko Haram insurgents in the region. Another key armed engagement the army is engaged in is in the Anglophone regions – North West and South West – against separatists groups under the so-called Ambazonia Republic.
“While the crimes under international law, including war crimes, and human rights violations committed by Boko Haram in Cameroon are despicable, absolutely nothing can justify the crimes being committed by some members of the armed forces,” the AI official added.
The group subsequently called for those suspected of criminal responsibility for these crimes under international law, including superiors who knew or should have known that subordinates were committing the extrajudicial executions, to be brought to justice in fair trials before ordinary civilian courts.