The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has filed two submissions to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), drawing their attention to serious and persistent violation of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values and UN Treaty Body obligations by its member states — Cameroon and Australia.
CHRI urges the CMAG to press upon the countries to respect fundamental freedoms and human rights of its citizen and the vulnerable.
The CMAG was established to “deal with persistent and serious violators of the Commonwealth’s shared principles” and its mandate includes: egregious violations of human rights, lack of space for the opposition, and systematic constraints on civil society and media.
The Anglophone crisis has been continuing in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest provinces over claims of marginalisation by the country’s French-speaking majority. The government in Yaoundé has responded with excessive use of force against protestors causing deaths and grievous injuries.
Arbitrary arrests and detentions, severe curbs on freedom of speech and expressions, and violations of human rights have accompanied since the crisis began in October 2016. Additionally, unimpeachable evidence has emerged of torture camps operated by the Cameroonian security forces in their fight against terrorism in the country’s Far North.
The Australian federal government continues to violate international human rights law and its treaty obligations. Despite ratifying the Refugee Convention, Australia has consistently denied entry to asylum seekers arriving by boat and thereby violating the principle of non-refoulement. Refoulement also violates Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), which Australia ratified in 1989.
Furthermore, the living conditions in the offshore Refugee Processing Centres (RPCs) in Nauru and the Manus Island are characterized by unhygienic living conditions, lack of physical and mental health care, and allegations of sexual assault of its inhabitants.
The CMAG meets on 22 September 2017 in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.