A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has condemned the reported deportation 51 Cameroonians, who were living in Nigeria as asylum seekers or naturalized citizens, by the Federal Government.
The group, in a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Adewale Timothy, said the reported forced eviction of the foreigners was both morally and legally wrong, describing it as human rights abuse.
Timothy said SERAP had already submitted a petition against both the Federal Government and the Cameroonian authorities to the African Commission in protest against the deportation.
In the petition dated February 2, 2018, SERAP called on the Bureau of the African Commission to urgently intervene and “end the ongoing human rights violations of naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers forcibly returned to their country by the Nigerian authorities.”
The petition was addressed to the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The group contended that if not condemned the forced eviction of asylum seekers by the Federal Government would “set a bad precedent for the rest of the sub-region.”
It called on the Chairperson and Bureau of the Commission “to urgently hold an extraordinary session of the African Commission to address the illegal and unfair return of 51 Cameroon refugees, asylum seekers and naturalised Nigerians, and the continuing violations of the rights of the returnees by the Government of Cameroon.”
SERAP called on the African Commission to “speak out strongly and condemn the unfair treatment of the refugees, asylum seekers and naturalised Nigerians by the Government of Cameroon, and request the government to immediately release them from unlawful detention.”
The group said, “Cameroon’s treatment of the returned naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers falls within the ‘worst crimes’ of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which, in article 7, defines crimes against humanity to mean acts such as deportation, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture and other similar acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.
“Both Nigeria and Cameroon do not have any extradition treaty. We consider the forced return of Cameroon asylum seekers from Nigeria illegal and unfair, as it failed to meet a high standard of procedural fairness and justice.
”Both Nigeria and Cameroon have ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.”