SENATE RESOLUTION 292--CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT OF CAMEROON AND ARMED SEPARATIST GROUPS TO RESPECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL CAMEROONIAN CITIZENS, TO END ALL VIOLENCE, AND TO PURSUE AN INCLUSIVE...; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 129
(Senate - July 30, 2019)

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SENATE RESOLUTION 292--CALLING ON THE GOVERNMENT OF CAMEROON AND ARMED 
   SEPARATIST GROUPS TO RESPECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF ALL CAMEROONIAN 
 CITIZENS, TO END ALL VIOLENCE, AND TO PURSUE AN INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE TO 
      RESOLVE THE CONFLICT IN THE NORTHWEST AND SOUTHWEST REGIONS

  Mr. CARDIN (for himself, Mr. Young, Mr. Durbin, Mr. Lankford, Mr. Van 
Hollen, Mr. Markey, Mr. Coons, Mr. Kaine, and Mr. Merkley) submitted 
the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on 
Foreign Relations:

                              S. Res. 292

       Whereas Paul Biya has held office as Cameroon's President 
     since 1982, and won reelection to a seventh term in October 
     2018;
       Whereas Cameroon receives United States foreign aid and 
     participates in the Department of State-led Trans-Sahara 
     Counter-Terrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and United States-
     supported efforts to counter Boko Haram;
       Whereas the Government of Cameroon has increasingly cracked 
     down on political expression, including by imprisoning 
     opposition leaders and supporters, banning opposition and 
     civil society conferences, reinforcing troop deployments to 
     deter and disrupt protests, and restricting access to 
     Facebook and other social media platforms;
       Whereas the Government of Cameroon has repeatedly 
     restricted freedoms of expression and the media nationwide by 
     shutting down the internet, harassing and detaining 
     journalists, refusing licenses to independent media, and 
     intensifying political attacks against the independent press;
       Whereas Boko Haram and an Islamic State-affiliated splinter 
     group have destabilized northern Cameroon since 2014, marked 
     recently by a June 2019 attack on security forces in Far 
     North Cameroon that killed dozens of soldiers and civilians;
       Whereas the Boko Haram insurgency in Cameroon's Far North 
     region has created an estimated 263,000 internally displaced 
     persons (IDPs), causing an escalating humanitarian crisis in 
     difficult to access areas;
       Whereas tensions between predominantly Christian farmers 
     and predominantly Muslim Fulani herders have contributed to 
     religious and communal tensions throughout West and Central 
     Africa in recent years, including in the Northwest region of 
     Cameroon;
       Whereas members of the Government of Cameroon's Rapid 
     Intervention Battalion (BIR), which receives United States 
     counterterrorism training and support, have been accused of 
     torture and extrajudicial killings and may be in 
     contravention of congressionally mandated ``Leahy human 
     rights vetting'' requirements;
       Whereas the 2018 Department of State Human Rights Report 
     documented torture and abuse by Cameroonian security forces, 
     ``prolonged arbitrary detentions including of suspected 
     Anglophone separatists by security forces,'' and violations 
     of freedoms of expression and assembly;
       Whereas, following Cameroon's October 7, 2018, elections, 
     the African Union Election Observation Mission stated that 
     ``the current [legal] framework needs to be strengthened in 
     order to safeguard the democratic principles of separation of 
     powers, fairness, and independence and impartiality,'' which 
     the Department of State echoed, emphasizing that electoral 
     irregularities ``created an impression that the election was 
     not credible or genuinely free and fair'';
       Whereas Anglophone Cameroonians have long felt marginalized 
     by official actions and policies of the Government of 
     Cameroon;
       Whereas, while the Government of France has condemned 
     attacks by armed separatists, it has a meaningful role to 
     play in pushing the Government of Cameroon to lift 
     restrictions on freedoms of expression and the media, end 
     arbitrary detention, and engage in inclusive dialogue with 
     Anglophone leaders;
       Whereas, beginning in late 2016, protests organized by 
     lawyers, teachers, and students were violently repressed by 
     the Government of Cameroon, leading to numerous deaths and 
     imprisonments, including of journalists and lawyers;
       Whereas, in January 2017, the Government of Cameroon 
     ordered the suspension of internet services in the northwest 
     and southwest regions of Cameroon, the suspension lasting for 
     93 days and having a major, debilitating effect on the 
     economy, educational institutions, freedom of expression, and 
     social communication of the region's residents;
       Whereas the conflict escalated in late September and early 
     October 2017, when Cameroonian security forces brutally 
     cracked down on unarmed civilians peacefully demonstrating, 
     resulting in at least 20 people dying and leaving over 100 
     injured;
       Whereas, in 2017, armed separatist groups launched a 
     campaign to pressure school officials in the Anglophone 
     region to go on strike as part of a boycott against the 
     Government of Cameroon, and began burning school buildings 
     and threatening education officials with violence if they did 
     not comply;
       Whereas human rights monitors have documented armed groups 
     killing traditional leaders and targeting civilians who are 
     perceived to be supporting or working with the Government of 
     Cameroon, and armed militants have killed Cameroonian 
     security force personnel;
       Whereas numerous credible reports from human rights 
     monitors, including the United Nations High Commissioner for 
     Human Rights, have documented the excessive use of force by 
     Government of Cameroon security forces against Cameroonians 
     living in the Anglophone regions, including the burning of 
     villages, the use of live ammunition against protestors, 
     arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and sexual abuse;
       Whereas the Department of State has expressed serious 
     concern over the Government of Cameroon's use of force to 
     restrict free expression and the use of violence against 
     individuals protesting the government's policies in the 
     Anglophone regions;
       Whereas both the Government of Cameroon security forces and 
     armed groups have been documented targeting and brutally 
     killing civilians in the Anglophone regions, including women 
     and children;
       Whereas in February 2019, the Department of State announced 
     it would withhold some security assistance to Cameroon, 
     citing credible allegations that the Cameroonian military 
     carried out human rights violations;
       Whereas United States citizen Charles Wesco was senselessly 
     killed near the town of Bamenda, Cameroon, on October 30, 
     2018, after being caught in what the Department of State has 
     characterized as ``cross fire'';
       Whereas the United Nations Office for the Coordination of 
     Humanitarian Affairs stated in March 2019 that at least 
     530,000 were internally displaced in areas affected by the 
     Anglophone conflict;
       Whereas the United Nations Office for the Coordination of 
     Humanitarian Affairs has estimated that $298,900,000 is 
     required to provide humanitarian assistance throughout 
     Cameroon, and only 21 percent of the appeal has been funded 
     as of July 2019;
       Whereas the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner 
     for Refugees reported that it had registered roughly 36,000 
     Cameroonian refugees from the Anglophone regions in Nigeria 
     as of April 2019;
       Whereas some Cameroonian diaspora organizations in the 
     United States and Cameroonian-based civil society 
     organizations are working to address the needs of Cameroonian 
     internally displaced persons on the northwest and southwest 
     regions of the country and refugees in Nigeria;
       Whereas 47 Anglophone activists were forcibly returned from 
     Nigerian custody to Cameroonian authorities in January 2018, 
     despite many having reportedly submitted asylum claims in 
     Nigeria; and
       Whereas 10 of the 47 individuals forcibly returned from 
     Nigeria now face charges before a military court that would 
     be punishable by the death penalty, while the other 37 
     reportedly remain in detention without charge: Now, 
     therefore, be it
       Resolved, That the Senate--
       (1) urges all parties to the Anglophone conflict in 
     Cameroon, including political opposition groups, to--
       (A) agree to an immediate ceasefire;
       (B) guarantee unfettered humanitarian assistance;
       (C) exercise restraint and ensure that protests remain 
     peaceful; and
       (D) engage in inclusive dialogue with civil society to get 
     to a political solution that respects the rights and freedoms 
     of the people of Cameroon;
       (2) strongly condemns the abuses committed by Boko Haram, 
     state security forces, and armed groups in the Anglophone 
     regions, including extrajudicial killings and detentions, the 
     use of force against nonviolent civilians and protestors, and 
     violations of the freedoms of press, expression, religion, 
     and assembly;
       (3) affirms that the United States Government continues to 
     hold the Government of

[[Page S5202]]

     Cameroon responsible for upholding the rights of all 
     citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, political 
     views, or the regions in which they reside;
       (4) urges the Government of Cameroon to--
       (A) initiate a credible, inclusive, good, and full-faith 
     effort to work with religious, cultural, and community 
     leaders in the Anglophone region and the Cameroonian diaspora 
     to engage in meaningful dialogue and address grievances and 
     seek nonviolent solutions to resolve the conflict, including 
     possibly involving an independent mediator in such 
     negotiations;
       (B) respect the fundamental rights of all Cameroonian 
     citizens, including political activists, faith leaders, and 
     journalists;
       (C) ensure that any security operations are conducted in 
     accordance with international human rights standards, 
     including efforts to ensure security forces only use force 
     under appropriate circumstances;
       (D) investigate all allegations of human rights abuses, 
     including religious freedom violations, committed in the 
     Anglophone regions and take the necessary measures to prevent 
     arbitrary detention, torture, enforced disappearances, deaths 
     in custody, and inhumane prison conditions;
       (E) promote the rule of law through more transparent 
     accountability mechanisms;
       (F) improve election processes and reform electoral 
     institutions;
       (G) promptly charge or release all those detained in the 
     context of the Anglophone crisis, including all Anglophone 
     activists arrested in Nigeria, and ensure that any future 
     detainees are treated with due process, in accordance with 
     Cameroon's penal code and international human rights norms;
       (H) ensure that detainees are treated fairly and humanely, 
     with proper judicial proceedings, including a registry of 
     those detained by the Cameroonian security forces, and with 
     full access to legal resources;
       (I) release human rights defenders, civil society 
     activists, political prisoners, journalists, trade unionists, 
     teachers, faith leaders and any other citizens who have been 
     arbitrarily arrested and detained without trial or charge; 
     and
       (J) work with United States law enforcement to thoroughly 
     investigate and prosecute Charles Wesco's murder; and
       (5) urges the armed groups in Anglophone areas to--
       (A) engage with government officials to peacefully express 
     grievances and credibly engage in nonviolent efforts to 
     resolve the conflict;
       (B) immediately stop committing human rights abuses, 
     including killings of civilians, torture, kidnapping, and 
     extortion;
       (C) end the school boycott and immediately cease attacks on 
     schools, teachers, and education officials, and allow for the 
     safe return of all students to class; and
       (D) immediately release all civilians illegally detained or 
     kidnapped.

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