Torture and Detention in Cameroon

Torture and Detention in Cameroon

The dark side of the U.S.-backed war against Boko Haram

For Amnesty International’s report, Cameroon’s Secret Torture Chambers

Since 2014, Cameroon has been at war with Boko Haram, an armed extremist group responsible for thousands of murders and abductions across the Lake Chad Basin.

Trained and supported by U.S. and European governments, and armed by Israeli private companies, the Cameroonian security forces act with increasing impunity against civilians in the country’s Far North region.

Between 2015 and 2016, Amnesty International collected evidence of over a hundred cases of illegal detention, torture and extra-judicial killing of Cameroonian citizens accused of supporting or being a member of Boko Haram, at around twenty sites across the country.

Using testimony and information supplied by Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture reconstructed two of these facilitiesa regional military headquarters, and an occupied schoolin order to confirm and illustrate the conditions of incarceration and torture described by former detainees.

At the two sites, detainees were kept in degrading and inhumane conditions in dark, crowded, airless cells. All were fed poorly, and most were tortured routinely. Dozens of detainees report witnessing deaths at the hands of Cameroon’s elite military unit, the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), or the Cameroonian intelligence agency, the DGRE.

Forensic Architecture’s research also uncovered the presence of U.S. personnel—military and private contractors—at one of the sites. Using satellite imagery, open-source material, and images gathered from social media, Forensic Architecture demonstrated the proximity of those personnel to sites of incarceration and torture, raising troubling questions for continued American support of Cameroon’s security forces.

A companion article, co-authored with U.S. news website The Intercept, explores some of the further material uncovered in the course of our investigation.

Forensic Architecture team

Eyal Weizman (principal investigator)

Omar Ferwati (project coordinator)

Robert Trafford

Simone Rowat

Nicolas Gourault

Nicholas Masterton

Sarah Nankivell

Christina Varvia

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