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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Representing the 20th District of Texas

Castro Leads Bipartisan Request to Secretary Mattis & Pompeo on U.S. Security Assistance for Cameroon

Jul 30, 2018
Press Release

Members Requested More Information on Security Situation in Cameroon Following a Video Depicting Violations by Cameroonian Security Forces

WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today led a group of 8 bipartisan lawmakers in asking the Departments of Defense and State for more information after a video depicted what appeared to be members of the Cameroonian armed forces killing two women and their children after accusing the women of supporting the terrorist organization, Boko Haram.

In a letter to Secretary Mattis and Secretary Pompeo, the Members wrote: “We write to you regarding the recently released video depicting what appear to be members of the Cameroonian armed forces killing two women and their children after accusing the women of supporting the terrorist organization, Boko Haram. Initially, the government of Cameroon denied that the incident actually took place in the country.”

The Members continued: “This shocking video raises a number of questions for the United States given our government’s extensive military cooperation with the Cameroonian security forces in the fight against Boko Haram. It also highlights the need for the United States to reassess security assistance to Cameroon given reporting of the repeated nature of such violations by Cameroonian security forces.”

The full list of co-signers includes Reps. Karen Bass (CA-37), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James McGovern (MA-02), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Meadows (NC-11), and Daniel Donovan Jr. (NY-11).

Full text of the letter follows and can be viewed here.

 

July 30, 2018

The Honorable James N. Mattis

Secretary of Defense

The Pentagon

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

Washington, D.C. 22202

 

Dear Secretary Mattis and Pompeo:

We write to you regarding the recently released video depicting what appear to be members of the Cameroonian armed forces killing two women and their children after accusing the women of supporting the terrorist organization, Boko Haram. Initially, the government of Cameroon denied that the incident actually took place in the country.  However according to news reports, four soldiers have been arrested in Cameroon’s far north region near the border with Nigeria.  This shocking video raises a number of questions for the United States given our government’s extensive military cooperation with the Cameroonian security forces in the fight against Boko Haram. It also highlights the need for the United States to reassess security assistance to Cameroon given reporting of the repeated nature of such violations by Cameroonian security forces.

Given the extensive contact and ties between the government and armed forces of the United States with Cameroonian security forces, we have a number of questions for you and ask for your prompt answer on them.

  1. What information do you have about the incidents depicted on the video and those responsible, including the time, location, and circumstances surrounding the event?
  2. Has the U.S. government confirmed any other credibly alleged cases of extrajudicial killings by Cameroonian security forces? Please provide details on such cases.
  3. Have any elements of the Cameroonian government sanctioned, supported, or mandated such behavior?
  4. Are any individuals or military units that have received training, equipment, material support, or other forms of assistance by United States government programs, including through the Department of Defense and Department of State, associated with this specific incident or other such extrajudicial killings, including of children? Do these individuals or military units continue to receive training, equipment, material support, or other forces of assistance by United States government programs?
  5. Please describe which units of Cameroon’s security forces are currently considered ineligible for U.S. assistance under the Leahy laws or other such restrictions due to credible implication in gross human rights violations.
  6. Please describe the status of any Cameroonian investigations into past allegations of serious abuses, and what additional actions will be taken by your Departments to restrict U.S. security assistance as a result of the aforementioned video.
  7. Have any elements of Cameroon’s security forces been denied training, equipment, material support, or other forms of assistance by United States government programs on the basis of participation in human rights violations or suspicion thereof?

In addition to your answers in a written format, we would also request a briefing from you or your designees for us and other members of Congress on this issue. Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,                                             

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