Chief Charles Achaleke Taku who was recently elected president of the International Criminal Court Bar Association has broken his silence on the Southern Cameroons crisis. In a conversation he shared with the Gideon, the Southern Cameroon royal and Man of Law revealed that the world with the help of the French Cameroun government has documented crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
PAV: What is your reading of the political situation in your native Cameroon especially on the fighting and gross human rights abuses in the North West and South West regions of the country?
Chief Taku: On the basis of statements made by Cameroon government officials themselves which are well documented, the scale of the crimes committed by government soldiers and operatives are crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. I have come to this conclusion based on statements and evidence made public by civilian and military government officials and commanders. Of course, there is a lot more evidence out there from credible reports filed by Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, diplomatic missions accredited to Cameroon and the physical perpetrators themselves. I have examined the declaration of war statement made by President Paul Biya on his arrival from a conference in Abidjan Cote D’Ivoire in November 2017. He clearly defined the enemy he deployed the army to take out as Southern Cameroons civilians whom he called terrorists. Although he in subsequent speeches attempted to nuance his definition, that was insignificant and did not affect the orders to exterminate and commit crimes on a massive scale under the pretext of waging war against terrorism. He was aware of the definition of terrorists in the war against terrorism against Boko Haram carried out by an international alliance in which Cameroon is a party. Characterizing Southern Cameroonians freedom seekers as terrorists placed the direct responsibility for the crimes perpetrated on the President and his subsidiary civilian and military commanders.
PAV: Is the ICC aware of the situation in those regions and would you say some of the excesses there fall in the category of cases the ICC could entertain?
Chief Taku: Cameroon signed unto the Rome Statute establishing the court but did not ratify it. Cameroon is therefore not a state party to the Rome Statute. Does this preclude the ICC from intervening in the situation in Cameroon? The answer is no. The Security Council may refer the situation to the ICC. If crimes against citizens of Cameroon are committed by Cameroon in the territory of a state party, the ICC may intervene. The abduction of Seseku Ayuk Tabe and others who were under the protection of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and their deportation to Cameroon are criminalized by the Rome Statute. The massive deportation of Southern Cameroons civilians from their ancestral homes in Manyu division towards Nigeria and the cross-border abductions and targeted killing of many of them in the territory of Nigeria falls within the jurisdiction of the Rome Statute. A senior member of the Nigeria intelligence service Babagana Mungano a national security adviser to President Buhari confessed his involvement and that of his government to these crimes, suggesting a coordinated inter-government policy of criminality. These crimes occurred at a time the ICC Prosecutor is conducting a preliminary examination in the crimes committed by Nigerian soldiers and security operatives against civilians in the war against Boko Haram. The crimes of the multinational forces in which Cameroonian forces are participants are surely under the radar of the preliminary investigation which has been on since 2010. The recent execution of a woman of Nigerian nationality and her child by Cameroon soldiers deployed to the multinational force against Boko Haram and its outcry must surely have attracted the attention of ICC investigators. The unsuccessful denial by Issa Tchiroma whose key role
in inciting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are well documented against provides an official character to the crimes.
The magnitude of the crimes committed and its progression towards a wider escalation in the Gulf of Guinea, and the entire region may irresistibly end in the United Nations establishing a Special Court for Cameroon. I do not see an alternative to the creation of this court if the international community genuinely wants to abate this genocide and the international crimes that will sooner or later engulf the entire sub-region. The magnitude of the crimes and the resolve of the Southern Cameroons to fight on may already have made any form of dispute settlement that will retain Cameroon as one nation impossible.
PAV: Thanks for granting this interview Chief
Chief Taku: You most welcome.
Extract from the Gideon No O36/July 30th/18 pages 6 and 7