U.S. withdraws military assistance to Cameroon, citing allegations of human rights violations

The United States government has halt it’s military assistance to Cameroon following the country’s continous human rights violation.

The US State Department said on 6 February, that it has withdrawn some military assistance which includes a C-130 transport aircraft training programme, the delivery of four Defender patrol boats, nine unidentified armoured vehicles, and an upgrade to the Cessna 208 surveillance aircraft to be operated by the Rapid Intervention Battalions.

Furthermore, an offer for Cameroon to join the State Partnership Program (SPP) has also been withdrawn, which will involve American states’ National Guards paired with another country’s armed forces, delivery of certain equipment and helicopter training.

Candice Tresch, a spokeswoman for the Pentagon, cited the Leahy Law, noting “the U.S. government does not provide assistance to security force units or individuals where we have credible information that the unit committed a gross violation of human rights.”  

A Washinton official disclosed that “We do not take these measures lightly, but we will not shirk from reducing assistance further if evolving conditions require it,” and that “For the time being, other programmes will continue.”

Cameroon Human Rights Violations

Last year, Amnesty International released an analysis of two videos that appeared to show Cameroonian security forces executing unarmed people, including children, in the country’s far northern region.

The US has been under severe criticism for supporting the brutal Paul Biya regime which has seen Cameroonian military repeatedly targeting civilians.

United States forces in Cameroon

Soldiers of the 21st Motorized Infantry Brigade patrol in the streets of Buea, Cameroon on
Soldiers of the 21st Motorized Infantry Brigade patrol in the streets of Buea, Cameroon

Members of the BIR, an elite force that has received various type of assistance from the United States, equally the US donatied a Cessna 208 ISR to the Cameroonian Air Force.

On October 2015, at the invitation of the Cameroonian government, President Barack Obama said 90 military personnel will be deployed to Cameroon ahead of the arrival of additional troops “to conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in the region”.

“The total number of US military personnel to be deployed to Cameroon is anticipated to be up to approximately 300, (along with the MQ-9 Reaper surveillance drones)” Obama said.

In September 2017, elements of the U.S Military Special Force were spotted in Cameroon fighting Boko Haram.

Deputy Director for advocacy and government at Amnesty International, Adotei Akwei, has urged the United States to suspend “all security assistance until the Cameroonian government can show it has not been utilized to commit serious violations of international law and persons responsible have been held accountable.”

cameroonian soldiers
Cameroonian soldiers

The official warned that “We emphasize that it is in Cameroon’s interest to show greater transparency in investigating credible allegations of gross violations of human rights security forces.”

“We have informed the Cameroonian government that lack of progress and clarity about actions undertaken by the government in response to credible information of gross violations of human rights could result in a broader suspension of U.S. assistance,” Candice Tresch said.

She further announced that Washington “will not shirk from reducing assistance further if evolving conditions require it,” the State Department said.

China pledge support to Cameroonian Military, donates $8 million

The Chinese government has signed a military assistance agreement with Cameroon, the agreement includes a donation of CFA4.5 million (USD8 million) to Cameroon’s military for the purchase of military equipment.

The donation was announced by the said the Chinese Ambassador to Cameroon, Wang Yingwu on behalf of the Chinese government during a meeting with the Cameroonian Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo. On 18 July.

Ekene Lionel

In search of the next big thing

Choose Your Language