14/09/2010 02:15:53
Government Endorsed Lawlessness and Political Intimidation Unacceptable
PICAM notes that the use of lawlessness and intimidation as a political strategy is both horrific and shameful as it is a clear reflection of the totalitarian tendencies of any government. The fact that the Government of Cameroon has resorted to the systematic use of intimidation as an official government policy shows the extent to which it is willing to indulge in illegal activities just to ensure its survival. The recent vandalism of the business premises of Hon. Paul Ayah by armed police officers is a clear illustration of the desperation of the regime in Cameroon.
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PICAM strongly condemns the use of lawlessness and intimidation by the Government of Cameroon as a political strategy to create fear among the populace. The use of intimidation has been at the pinnacle of the regime of President Paul Biya and PICAM is calling on him and members of his regime to desist from such tactics and instead ensure compliance with the rule of law. PICAM recognizes that the use of intimidation in some instances have led to serious consequences, including arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and the death of political opponents, regime critics, and ordinary citizens of Cameroon.

PICAM notes that the use of lawlessness and intimidation as a political strategy is both horrific and shameful as it is a clear reflection of the totalitarian tendencies of any government. The fact that the Government of Cameroon has resorted to the systematic use of intimidation as an official government policy shows the extent to which it is willing to indulge in illegal activities just to ensure its survival. The recent vandalism of the business premises of Hon. Paul Ayah by armed police officers is a clear illustration of the desperation of the regime in Cameroon.

The intended outcome of the practice of lawlessness and intimidation is a social environment of increased fear. The Government of Cameroon appears to be building its survival foundations on an environment of trepidation, which its hopes will coerce Cameroonians to avoid criticism of the regime, stay clear of any action deemed opposing to the regime’s survival, and compel Cameroonians to accept whatever the regime stands for, including the enforcement of unlimited presidential mandate, and the conduct and proclamation of election outcomes.

 

Until recently, the most obvious victims of lawlessness and political intimidation were opposition politicians, civil society activists, journalists, and students. However, this trajectory seems to be changing as the regime has been going full force against its own. Despite being a laudable anti-corruption move, the arrest of several former members of the regime of Paul Biya on corruption charges appears to be a calculated political intimidation strategy because it is selective in nature. Such discriminatory application of the anti-corruption campaign in Cameroon has created an atmosphere of uncertainty and horror among former and present members of the Biya regime and the ruling CPDM party, which in turn is ensuring complete loyalty to party line policies for fear of victimization.

 

Apparently, the inability of the Biya regime to forge corruption charges against some of their own has led to the outright use of lawlessness as its most potent weapon. Hon. Paul Ayah, a CPDM Member of Parliament (MP) for Akwaya constituency in Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon appears to be a foremost target of this new strategy. It is worth noting that Hon. Paul Ayah was the only CPDM MP who opposed and has remained outspoken against the April 2008 amendment of the constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, which eliminated Presidential term limit and effectively paved the way for Paul Biya to rule Cameroon for life.

Because of his continued opposition to the manipulation of the country’s constitution, Hon. Paul Ayah has suffered a great deal - including harassment in 2009 at the hands of elements of the Mobile Intervention Unit along the Buea-Kumba road and the subsequent grounding of his car for several weeks by the Police in fragrant disrespect of his Parliamentary immunity. The recent raid for no apparent reason on the business premises of Hon. Paul Ayah situated along the Mile 17-Muea road in Buea by uniform police officers, the disruption of business activities, the brutalization of business personnel, and the firing of gun shots on August 29, 2010 seems to be yet another calculated attempt to create lawlessness, fear, and intimidate the MP to tow party line on every issue.

PICAM holds that for a Government to indulge in creating an environment of lawlessness and political intimidation as seen in Cameroon is outrageously reprehensible. The Rule of Law, a component of good governance has been reduced to nothing in Cameroon. Security forces are basically immune from legal accountability as they have been tacitly given unfettered powers to subjugate real and imagined opponents of the regime to inhumane treatments. Under the atmosphere of lawlessness created by the regime, security forces belief they can only maintain order by violating the civil rights of the citizens that they should be protecting. PICAM notes that whenever those sworn to protect citizens lose their credibility, vulnerable populations experience increased victimization.

PICAM recognizes that the citizens of Cameroon face numerous threats to many different human rights, the most fundamental being the right is to be free from harm as specified in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights which Cameroon has ratified. Cameroonians also continue to suffer other violations of their rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of information, and freedom of assembly. Journalists remain intimidated by existing libel laws, which make it dangerous to criticize the government. Journalists face prison time and persistent police harassment if they attempt to provide news stories examining government affairs. In addition, conferences and meetings of opposition political parties, non-governmental organizations, and student groups are subjected to regular raids and disruptions from armed security forces under the direction of government administrators.

 

The voices of everyday citizens of Cameroon remain swallowed in the climate of corruption and dictatorship instead of being reflected in law provisions and government practices. PICAM notes that Cameroonians deserve a democracy that allows for the input of its citizens and gives them a key role in their country’s government. As the situation in Cameroon demonstrates, if there is no democracy, then human rights cannot be upheld. The state of artificial democracy and serious human rights violations in Cameroon is directly related and dependent on one another. Unless the nature of democracy in Cameroon changes to an authentic people-powered political movement, the human rights of everyday citizens of Cameroon will remain jeopardized.

Picam

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