Cameroon: seven soldiers on trial for murder of women and children recorded in 'horrifying' viral video

A video of the killings went viral in July last year

Amnesty analysis revealed evidence that the Cameroon military were responsible

Seven soldiers are set to go on trial tomorrow (27 August) for the brutal murder of two women and two children.

A video of the killings, which went viral in early July 2018, was initially dismissed by the Cameroonian authorities as “fake news”. Amnesty research, however, revealed credible evidence that the Cameroon military was responsible, and the authorities later announced that the seven soldiers depicted in the video had been arrested and would be prosecuted.

The soldiers are due to appear before a military court in the capital Yaoundé on charges of joint participation in murder, breach of regulations and conspiracy.

Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Regional Director, said:

“This horrifying video shone a spotlight on the way civilians in Cameroon’s Far North have been ensnared in atrocities amid the fight against Boko Haram. Security forces who are supposed to be protecting people have instead carried out arbitrary detentions and extrajudicial executions.

“The Cameroonian authorities must draw a line and ensure no army personnel responsible for atrocities will escape from prosecutions. Tomorrow’s trial is a first step towards justice and reparations for victims and their loved ones. Authorities must also ensure that all those reasonably suspected of crimes against civilians are brought to justice in fair trials before civilian courts.”

Amnesty experts analysed the video of soldiers shooting dead two women and their two children as soon as it went viral in July 2018. Relying on multiple strands of evidence – including expert analysis of the uniforms and weapons used, and linguistic and other contextual clues in speech that gave away the identities and ranks of the soldiers – Amnesty was able to begin to build a case to counter the official narrative. The evidence strongly suggested that it was Cameroonian extrajudicially executing civilians in the video.

A community of open source investigators collaborating on the case pin-pointed the exact location near the town of Zelevet and narrowed down the date to late March or early April 2015.  The case was documented in the September 2018 BBC Africa Eye documentary “Anatomy of a Killing”.

While playing an important role in defending people threatened by Boko Haram, the Cameroonian security forces’ response has too often been heavy-handed and rife with human rights violations.  Amnesty is calling on authorities to bring all those suspected of criminal responsibility to justice in fair trials, before ordinary civilian courts and without recourse to death penalty.

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