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U.S. Security Aid Enables Torture in Cameroon

August 14, 2018 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall, Jordan Cohen

A. Trevor Thrall and Jordan Cohen

A recent video showing the Cameroonian military
executing two women and two children by gunshot to the head shocked
many Americans, most of whom are certainly unaware that since 2002
the United States has trained nearly 6,400 soldiers, sold Cameroon
$6 million worth of American weapons, and
provided its military with $234 million in security aid.

Making matters worse is the fact that this sort of behavior is
nothing new in Cameroon. In 2017, Amnesty International revealed that the
Cameroonian military tortured prisoners in over 20 sites, and
recorded 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between
2013 and 2017. Chillingly, the report also notes that many of these
actions took place at the same military base used by U.S. personnel
for drone surveillance and training missions. During the
U.S. fortification of this site — known as Salak —
Amnesty International found that suspects were subjected to water
torture, beaten with electric cables and suspended with ropes,
among other horrors.

American counterterrorism policy should never allow the ends to
justify such means. Though unintentional, American counterterrorism
policy in Cameroon has done just that. Even after learning of the
crimes documented in the Amnesty report, the United States
continued to provide training and funding for the Cameroonian
military, enabling the ongoing torture and the execution of
innocent people.

Washington needs to take
steps to ensure that it does not enable the torture and oppression
of Cameroonians in the name of American national
security.

The rationale for American aid and assistance to Cameroon since
2001 has never been in question. Nigerian-based Boko Haram —
a group briefly affiliated with the Islamic State — is indeed a violent
group. It is responsible not only for the famous kidnapping of over
276 schoolgirls in 2014 but also for tens of
thousands of deaths in Nigeria (and many in Cameroon, as people
fled across the border from Nigeria to escape) since 2009. Beyond
this, Cameroon is Central Africa’s second-biggest economy after
Nigeria and is a development hub with regard to paved roads
and sea ports, both of which play a large role in the region’s
future. Though Boko Haram does not pose a direct threat to American
national security (it has never attacked the United States), it
certainly remains a destabilizing force in Africa today. As such,
making efforts to help local partners confront and manage Boko
Haram is a reasonable policy.

Unfortunately, the very states like Nigeria and Cameroon that
suffer from violent insurgencies and terrorism are also extremely
unreliable partners. Cameroon …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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