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US ends trade benefits for Cameroon because the country failed to address persistent human rights violations

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Article
5 November 2019

US Cuts Cameroon Trade Privileges Over Rights Abuses

Author: Ilaria Allegrozzi, Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Last week, the Trump administration announced it intends to cut trade benefits for Cameroon by January 1, 2020, citing persistent human rights violations in the country. AGOA allows sub-Saharan African countries to export to the US without a customs duty, provided the country’s government has established or is making progress toward establishing rule of law, political pluralism, fair trial and due process standards, and equal protection under the law...President Trump said Cameroon has failed to address concerns regarding government forces’ persistent human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.

Human Rights Watch has documented serious human rights abuses committed by the Cameroonian security forces both in the Far North region and in the Anglophone regions since 2017. These include killing of civilians, burning of hundreds of homes, and the systematic use of torture and incommunicado detention...

The US termination of the designation of Cameroon as a beneficiary country under AGOA should be a wake-up call to the Cameroon government and should stir action from other international partners to Cameroon to publicly address serious human rights concerns in the country.

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Article
5 November 2019

US slaps sanctions on Cameroon over rights abuses

Author: Rosy Sadou, Cajnews Africa (Afrique du Sud)

Last week, the Donald Trump administration announced it intends to cut trade benefits for...Cameroon...by January 1, 2020. Cameroon has thus lost privileged access to the US market offered under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA)...[that]...allows sub-Saharan African countries to export to the US without a customs duty. 

In his message to Congress, Trump said Cameroon had failed to address concerns regarding government forces’ persistent human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention and torture. The violations have persisted in recent years as English-speaking communities demand independence from Cameroon, alleging marginalisation by the government of President Paul Biya.

Ilaria Allegrozzi, Human Rights Watch Senior Central Africa Researcher, said the US termination of the designation of Cameroon as a beneficiary country under AGOA should be a wake-up call to Biya’s government. “It should stir action from other international partners to Cameroon to publicly address serious human rights concerns in the country,” Allegrozzi said.

 

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Article
1 November 2019

Trump ends trade benefits for Cameroon over 'persistent human rights violations’

Author: Danielle Paquette, Washington Post

President Trump said he will soon ax Cameroon from a trade program that allows African countries to sell goods to the United States on a duty-free basis, citing “persistent human rights violations”...The decision comes as U.S. officials accuse the Central African nation of extrajudicial killings and unlawful detentions amid conflicts that have displaced more than a half-million people over the past two years. “Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Government of Cameroon, Cameroon has failed to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces,” Trump said...Cameroonian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Allegations of human rights abuses center on the country’s Anglophone crisis, which began in 2016 with protests in English-speaking areas over the use of French in schools and courts. (About 80 percent of Cameroon speaks French.) That trouble has evolved into a full-blown conflict between armed Anglophone separatist groups and government forces. Both sides have been accused of violent crimes...

The Cameroonian government has jailed activists without charge and failed to punish soldiers who crackdown on dissent with torture and indiscriminate killing...A video analysis from Amnesty International last summer appeared to show Cameroonian troops executing unarmed people, including children, in the country’s north...

Slashing access to the world’s biggest market is meant to send President Paul Biya “a strong disapproving message,” said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, an ethical-leadership nonprofit organization. Cameroon...exported $220 million in goods to the United States last year, including mineral fuel, wood, rubber, and cocoa, according to American trade data. 

 

 

 

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Article
31 October 2019

Message to the Congress

Author: Donald J. Trump, The Whitehouse (USA)

In accordance with section 506A(a)(3)(B) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended (19 U.S.C. 2466a(a)(3)(B)), I am providing notice of my intent to terminate the designation of the Republic of Cameroon (Cameroon) as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

I am taking this step because I have determined that the Government of Cameroon currently engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, contravening the eligibility requirements of section 104 of the AGOA.

Despite intensive engagement between the United States and the Government of Cameroon, Cameroon has failed to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces.  These violations include extrajudicial killings, arbitrary and unlawful detention, and torture.

Accordingly, I intend to terminate the designation of Cameroon as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country under the AGOA as of January 1, 2020.  I will continue to assess whether the Government of Cameroon engages in gross violations of internationally recognized human rights, in accordance with the AGOA eligibility requirements.

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