23 July 2020
Our reference: MC2020/13463
The Lord Alton of Liverpool
House of Commons
Dear Lord Alton,
Thank you for your letter of 7 July to the Foreign Secretary about Cameroon. I am replying as the Minister for Africa.
The UK Government remains deeply concerned about the situation in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon. As you note in your letter, these regions are continuing to suffer from high levels of violence, which has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
We welcome the call in February, by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, on armed actors to refrain from attacks against civilians in Cameroon. Tragically the violence continues, and as I publicly stated again on 21 July, in relation to appalling acts against aid workers and civilians in the South-West region of Cameroon, it must stop.
We continue to call for restraint and unhindered humanitarian access to the affected population. Further, inclusive dialogue remains vital to ensure a just, peaceful and durable resolution to the crisis, which meets the reasonable demands of the moderate majority.
We continue to raise our concerns about the crisis in the North-West and South-West regions at the highest levels.
On 19 May, I spoke to the Prime Minister of Cameroon and discussed the need for a peaceful solution to the conflict. The UK also continues to discuss the crisis with international partners, including France and the United States, and in multilateral fora, including on 12 June at a United Nations Security Council briefing on Central Africa. We have shared experiences of conflict resolution with the Government, and remain ready to support all credible peacebuilding initiatives. It is vital that all sides come together to work towards a solution to benefit all Cameroonians.
We are aware of multiple reports of human rights violations and abuses by both security forces and armed separatists. These reports are deeply concerning. I made a public statement following the appalling attacks in Ngarbuh in the North-West region on 14 February, calling for those responsible to be held accountable.
The British High Commissioner in Yaoundé also made representations to the local authorities about the importance of credible, impartial and transparent investigations. We welcomed the Government of Cameroon’s publication of the findings of its investigation into the violence on 14 February in Ngarbuh, which attributed responsibility to Cameroonian soldiers. It is now for the Government of Cameroon to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The UK’s Global Human Rights sanctions regime, launched on 6 July, gives the UK a powerful new tool to hold to account those involved in serious human rights violations or abuses. It will project the UK as a force for good, complementing and enhancing our existing human rights activities around the world. We will continue to consider designations under the Global Human Rights sanctions regime, but it is not appropriate to speculate who may be designated under the sanctions regime in the future.
To do this could reduce the impact of the designations.
James Duddridge MP
Minister for Africa