THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR COMBATTING TERRORISM IN CAMEROON
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This study is aimed at examining the legal framework for combating terrorism in Cameroon. The “war on terror” has exclusively focused on transnational terrorism since the hijackings of 9/11. Based on almost 40 years of data, this work shows that domestic terrorism poses a much greater threat to the world community.
Thus, this focus needs to be reconsidered, especially because recent research shows that domestic terrorism spills over into transnational terrorism.
This article also argues that homeland security and the dominance of religious fundamentalist terrorists are making the hardest-to-defend targets – private parties – the target of choice after 1999. Moreover, terrorists are increasing favouring attacking people over property. Even though terrorism murders relatively few people, it poses a supreme collective action problem for the world community.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The term terroriste, meaning “terrorist”, is first used in 1794 by the French philosopher François-Noël Babeuf, who denounces Maximilien Robespierre’s Jacobin regime as a dictatorship.
In the years leading up to the Reign of Terror, the Brunswick Manifesto threatened Paris with an “exemplary, never to be forgotten vengeance: the city would be subjected to military punishment and total destruction” if the royal family was harmed, but this only increased the Revolution’s will to abolish the monarchy.
Some writers’ attitudes about French Revolution grew less favourable after the French monarchy was abolished in 1792. During the Reign of Terror, which began in July 1793 and lasted thirteen months, Paris was governed by the Committee of Public safety who oversaw a regime of mass executions and public purges.
Anarchism was a late 19th-century idea among a number of Europeans, Russians, and Americans that all government should be abolished, and that voluntary cooperation, rather than force, should be society’s organizing principle
The word itself comes from a Greek word, anarkos, which means “without a chief.” The movement had its origins in the search for a way to give industrial working classes a political voice in their societies. By the turn of the 20th century, anarchism was already on the wane, to be replaced by other movements encouraging the rights of dispossessed classes and revolution. The late 19th century saw a wave of political violence inspired by anarchist ideas which were subsequently labelled anarchist terrorism:
- 1881: the assassination of Russian Tsar Alexander II, by the group Narodnaya Volya
- 1894: the assassination of the French president Marie-Francois Sadi Carnot
- 1894: Bombing of Greenwich Observatory in London
- 1901: the assassination of American President William McKinley in September 1901, by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz.
These assassinations led to fear among governments that there existed a vast international conspiracy of anarchist terrorists. In fact, there never was one.
The “religious wave” began in the 18thcentury too. In the three earlier waves, religious identity was always important; religious and ethnic identities often overlap, as the Armenian, Macedonian, Irish, Cypriot, Israeli, and Palestinian struggles illustrate. But the aim earlier was to create secular sovereign states, in principle no different from those present in the international world. Religion has a vastly different significance in the fourth wave, supplying justifications and organizing principles for the New World to be established.
Islam is the most important religion in this wave and will get special attention below. But we should remember that other religious communities produced terrorists too. Sikhs sought a religious state in the Punjab. Jewish terrorists attempted to blow up Islam’s most sacred shrine in Jerusalem and waged an assassination campaign against Palestinian mayors.
One religious settler murdered 29 worshippers in Abraham’s tomb (Hebron, 1994) and a fundamentalist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Rabin (1995). 1995 was also the year in which Aum Shinrikyo, a group that combined Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu religious themes, released nerve gas on the Tokyo subway, killing 12 and injuring 3000.
Worldwide anxiety materialized over expectations that a new threshold in terrorist experience had materialized: various groups would be encouraged to use chemo-bio weapons soon, and each separate attack would produce casualties numbering tens of thousands.
Christian terrorism, based on racial interpretations of the Bible, emerged mostly in the amorphous American Christian Identity movement. In true millenarian fashion, armed rural communes composed of families would withdraw from the state to wait for the Second Coming and the great racial war that event would initiate.
So far the level of Christian violence has been minimal, although some observers have associated the Identity movement with the Oklahoma City bombing (1995)
Terrorism has grown exponentially in the African continent, not only in terms of the number of attacks but also the number of countries affected. There is an arc of instability spreading across Africa, from Nigeria in the west to Somalia in the east.
In Nigeria, Boko Haram (meaning Western education is sin) continues to target civilians and government infrastructure despite several rounds of operation conducted by the Nigerian Army. Boko Haram, which came up in 2009, had emerged as the ‘world’s deadliest terrorist organization’ by 2014.
In the last eight years, it is said that Boko Haram has taken 20,000 lives, displaced 2.6 million people, created 75,000 orphans and caused about nine billion worth of damage. Links with ISIS, with leadership tussle between Abubakar Shekau and ISIS favouring Abu Musab al-Barnawi, have turned the situation more complex.
While there may have been some reduction in Boko Haram-led violence in the country due to the Nigerian Army’s counter-terrorism campaign, the group continues to expand its operations in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon, Niger and Chad.
Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the group has been led by Abubakar Shekau since 2009. When Boko Haram first formed, their actions were nonviolent. Their main goal was to purify Islam in northern Nigeria.
Since March 2015, the group has been aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Since the current insurgency started in 2009, Boko Haram has killed tens of thousands and displaced 2.3 million from their homes and was at one time the world’s deadliest terror group according to the Global Terrorism Index.
Boko Haram continued to increase its presence in northern Cameroon. On 16 May, ten Chinese workers were abducted in a raid on a construction company camp in Waza, near the Nigerian border. Vehicles and explosives were also taken in the raid, and one Cameroonian soldier was killed. Cameroon’s anti-terrorist Rapid Intervention Battalion attempted to intervene but was vastly outnumbered.] I
In July, the deputy prime minister’s home village was attacked by around 200 militants; his wife was kidnapped, along with the Sultan of Kolofata and his family
At least 15 people, including soldiers and police, were killed in the raid. The deputy prime minister’s wife was subsequently released in October, along with 26 others including the ten Chinese construction workers who had been captured in May; authorities made no comment about any ransom, which the Cameroon government had previously claimed it never pays. In a separate attack, nine bus passengers and a soldier were shot dead and the son of a local chief was kidnapped.
Hundreds of local youths are suspected to have been recruited. In August, the remote Nigerian border town of Gwoza was overrun and held by the group. In response to the increased militant activity, the Cameroonian president sacked two senior military officers and sent his army chief with 1000 reinforcements to the northern border region.
In the second half of December, the focus of activity switched to the Far North Region of Cameroon, beginning on the morning of 17 December when an army convoy was attacked with an IED and ambushed by hundreds of militants near the border town of Amchide, 60 kilometers (40 mi) north of the state capital Maroua. One soldier was confirmed dead, and an estimated 116 militants were killed in the attack, which was followed by another attack overnight with unknown casualties. On 22 December, the Rapid Intervention Battalion followed up with an attack on a Boko Haram training camp near Guirdivig, arresting 45 militants and seizing 84 children aged 7–15 who were undergoing training, according to a statement from Cameroon’s Ministry of Defense. The militants fled in pick-up trucks carrying an unknown number of their dead; no information on army casualties was released. On 27–28 December, five villages were simultaneously attacked, and for the first time, the Cameroon military launched air attacks when Boko Haram briefly occupied an army camp. Casualty figures were not released.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
There is no universal agreement on the definition of terrorism. Various legal systems and government agencies use different definitions. Moreover, governments have been reluctant to formulate an agreed-upon and legally binding definition. Difficulties arise from the fact that the term has become politically and emotionally charged. In the United States of America, terrorism is defined in Title 22 Chapter 38 U.S. Code as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents”.In general, terrorism is classified as:.The problem of defining terrorism is compounded by the fact that terrorism has recently become a fad word often applied to a variety of acts of violence that are not strictly terrorism.
The 2014 antiterrorism law in Cameroon is problematic. This can be seen in the fact that the law prescribes the death penalty for persons who carry out “any activity which can lead to a general revolt of the population or disturb the normal functioning of the country” and for “anyone who supplies arms, war equipment, bacteria and viruses with the intention of killing.” from opposition political leaders to civil society, church ministers and trade unions.” This law is designed to terrorise the people and kill their freedoms.”
Also, the military of Cameroon has resorted to extrajudicial activities under the canopy of combatting terrorism. The Cameroonian authorities have created a climate of impunity in which the armed forces have free reign to kill and torture.
Amnesty International has documented multiple extrajudicial killings, as well as the widespread use of torture by Cameroonian security forces that are fighting against the armed group Boko Haram in the Far North region of the country.
An investigation by Amnesty International experts has gathered credible evidence that it was Cameroonian soldiers depicted in a video carrying out the horrific extrajudicial executions of two women and two young children on the 12th of July 2018. While an investigation has now been announced, the Ministry of Communication earlier dismissed video footage of the killings as “fake news”
It is based on the foregoing that thus researcher decided to embark on this research to discover the causes of the various problems highlighted above despite legal provisions amidst national and international condemnation of terrorism.
- RESEARCH QUESTION
This researcher seeks to answer the following questions.
- GENERAL RESEARCH QUESTION
Is there any legal framework for combatting terrorism in Cameroon?
1.3.2 SPECIFIC RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What are the various notions of terrorism?
- What is the legal framework for the fight against terrorism in Cameroon?
- How effective are the laws and institutions in the fight against terrorism?
- What policy recommendations can be made to address the problem?
1.4 RESEARCH OBJECTIVE
This research has both general and specific objectives;
1.4.1 General objective
- To know about the laws for the fight against terrorism in Cameroon.
1.4.2 Specific objectives
- To examine the policies adopted by Cameroon to combat terrorism.
- To examine the effectiveness of the policies and framework in the fight against terrorism in Cameroon.
- To make policy recommendations that can address the problem.
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