MRG adds international dimension to Cameroon Mbororo rights case
MRG legal experts submitted an amicus brief regarding a case involving a member of the Mbororo pastoralist community in Cameroon to a Military Tribunal in January. The same Tribunal has found a Company Commander of the Bamenda gendarme, Captain Fosting Benjamin, guilty of torture and arbitrary arrest against a member of the community following the extensive legal efforts of Mbororo NGOs in bringing the case, and consideration of MRG’s brief. MRG are pursuing this case in the wider context of violence against the Mbororo, intertwined with ongoing disputes over community rights to grazing land.
According to press reports, this decision marks the first time since Cameroon gained independence form Britain and France in the 1960s that a member of the Mbororo ethnic minority has brought charges and succeeded in securing a conviction against a senior gendarme officer. The recent cases have been brought by Mbororo minority rights campaigners and the Mbororo organization MBOSCUDA, and have given the community renewed hope that their individual and collective rights as a pastoralist community can be upheld through legal means. International attention brought to rights violations against the community has been seen as a significant and positive development by community representatives who commented that perpetrators may begin to fear prosecution under international law.
MRG, in supporting a legal case brought by the Mbororo, seeks to bring to the attention of the Courts clarification of the state’s obligations under domestic, regional and international law in respect of persons subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Cameroon Constitution clearly states that minorities will be protected, and that under no circumstance shall any person be subjected to such rights violations. Reports from Cameroon state that the Military Judge ordered a recess in order to study MRG’s amicus brief, and distributed copies to the jurors commenting that it contained important and useful information on minority rights. MRG welcomed the court victory as a significant achievement by the Mbororo people and their representatives.
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