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432-00581 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

WHEREAS

  • Canada and Cameroon, both officially English-French bilingual countries, have nearly 60 years of direct diplomatic relations;
  • Since 2016, rights groups in Canada and Cameroon have recorded over 3,000 deaths, 200 villages burned, and hundreds of human rights abuses, including crimes against humanity, in the ‘Anglophone Crisis' in Cameroon's English-speaking regions;
  • Members of the Cameroonian government and military are implicated in serious human rights abuses, including atrocity crimes as defined by International Humanitarian Law;
  • Self-proclaimed leaders of the non-state armed groups, whether residing in Cameroon or in the diaspora, are implicated in serious human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions;
  • Prime Minister Trudeau's December 2019 Mandate Letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Champagne called on the Minister to “[b]uild on the Magnitsky sanctions regime to ensure increased support for victims of human rights violations”;
  • Canada has previously, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), imposed targeted measures against foreign nationals who are responsible for or complicit in gross human rights violations.

We, the undersigned citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada, to:

  • Impose targeted sanctions using the Magnitsky Law to prevent travel and immigration to Canada, and freeze assets situated in Canada, of Cameroonian government and military officials implicated in human rights abuses, including through command responsibility, and including their family members.
  • Impose targeted sanctions using the Magnitsky Law to prevent travel and immigration to Canada by the self-proclaimed leaders of the non-state armed groups, whether they reside in Cameroon or in the diaspora, who are implicated in human rights abuses in the Anglophone regions, including through command responsibility.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada is deeply concerned by the continuing violence in Cameroon, including in the Northwest and Southwest regions (NWSW). The promotion and protection of human rights is a pillar of Canadian foreign policy. As such, the Government will continue to condemn violence and human rights violations in Cameroon, and encourage all parties to the conflict in the NWSW to seek an inclusive negotiated solution.

Canada provides funding to the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue’s (HD) facilitation efforts and supports Switzerland’s mediation efforts. Canada also finances Swisspeace’s work with various civil society peacebuilders in Cameroon as well as the efforts of the regional NGO Réseau des Défenseurs des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) to place women and girls at the centre of peace and reconciliation in Central Africa.

Canadian officials, including Canada’s High Commissioner to Cameroon, have raised Canada’s human rights concerns with Cameroonian authorities and have encouraged the Government of Cameroon to take steps towards a negotiated solution. On March 11, 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs discussed with his Cameroonian counterpart the need for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in the NWSW regions of Cameroon. In the Fall of 2020, Canada’s High Commissioner to Cameroon visited the Southwest region and signaled Canada’s ongoing concerns about the NWSW crisis with various local stakeholders, including civil society and government officials.

Canada has consistently and publicly condemned violence and human rights violations in the NWSW regions of Cameroon. For example, on January 14, 2021, Canada shared its deep concerns following the upsurge in violence in several towns, including around Mautu, and called for an impartial investigation of the perpetrators of violence. On February 17, 2021, Canada voiced its concerns following the killings of traditional Chiefs. On February 26, 2021, the Canadian High Commission in Cameroon expressed concerns about violence perpetrated in March 2020 against civilians in Ebam (including murder and rapes), following the publication of a Human Rights Watch report.

In addition to public statements and direct engagement with Cameroonian officials, Canada continues to raise its concerns about the situation in Cameroon in international fora, including during Cameroon’s most recent Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Sanctions are an important component of Canada’s principled and pragmatic approach to foreign policy, which also includes dialogue, capacity building, advocacy, multilateral engagement, and other diplomatic actions. The regulations enacted under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act allow the Government of Canada to target individuals responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally recognized human rights or acts of significant corruption. A rigorous due diligence process has been established to consider and evaluate possible cases of human rights violations or corruption against the criteria set out in the Act, within the context of other ongoing efforts to promote human rights and combat corruption. The Government of Canada tailors its responses to the specifics of each unique situation. Canada is judicious in its approach regarding when to deploy sanctions and/or draw on other courses of action in our diplomatic toolkit based on foreign policy priorities.

The Government of Canada continues to call for respect for human rights and for a negotiated peace in Cameroon.

Presented to the House of Commons
Arif Virani (Parkdale—High Park)
February 26, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00581)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Arif Virani
Parkdale—High Park
Liberal Caucus
Ontario

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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