The human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, is calling on the US government to suspend deportations of Cameroonians to their home countries. The deportees are facing “serious threats to their safety”. While several crises are shaking Cameroon, the NGO suggests granting these nationals a temporary protection status.
Would Cameroonians repatriated from the USA be in danger in their country? In a note published on December 18, Human Rights Watch (HRW) calls on the US government to exempt all Cameroonian nationals illegally present on US territory from any deportation order. The human rights organization cites “serious threats to their lives and freedom” in a country torn by several internal crises.
“In addition to a widespread risk of serious harm due to the current climate of violence in the Far North, North West, and southwest regions, returnees to Cameroon also face the risk of torture and ill-treatment as a result of their real or perceived opposition to the government,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Africa researcher at HRW.
Government and the anvil of the separatists
Last October and November, HRW notes that Immigration and Customs Control (ICE) officials expelled more than 90 Cameroonians. HWR “was able to confirm, based on court documents and interviews with lawyers, activists, and volunteers, that at least several dozen of these deportees had sought, without success, to obtain asylum in the United States”.
The reasons given by these Cameroonian nationals to justify their irregular situation are: “the threat to their security in Cameroon”.
Moreover, says HRW, the protean crises that the country is going through, one of the most violent of which is the separatist conflict in its English-speaking regions, are at the origin of “serious human rights violations”.
A situation that forces many Cameroonians to go into exile. Therefore, these refoulements could expose these nationals to real threats, according to this human rights organization.
“English-speaking people returned to Cameroon, run a serious risk of abuse by government security forces because they are likely to be suspected of having links with the separatists, or by the separatists themselves (perpetrators of many cases of abuse against civilians, editor’s note),” HRW argues.
A hypothesis that Phillipe Nanga, coordinator of the NGO ‘Un monde à venir’, a human rights organization based in Douala, does not rule out. For the civil society actor, HRW’s fears are justified.
“Cameroonians in the diaspora are sometimes unfortunately linked to the enemies of the regime in place. It is often enough to be English-speaking or to have attended an anti-regime rally abroad to be stigmatized. But to expel them would be to expose them more,” he told the Russian news media Sputnik.