UNHCR Berates Nigeria For Extraditing Cameroonians

UNHCR Berates Nigeria For Extraditing Cameroonians

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Added by February 2, 2018

The UN refugee agency on Thursday criticised Nigeria’s decision to extradite the leader of a Cameroonian anglophone separatist movement and his supporters at Yaounde’s request.

The Nigerian government had arrested and extradited Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, the leader, alongside 46 others.

UNHCR said the decision is a violation of international refugee law and it gives it “great concern”.

Ayuk Tabe has been in the forefront of the struggle by the English-speaking half of Cameroon to separate from the French-speaking half.

This is due to decades of economic inequality and social injustice at the hands of the French-speaking majority.

The UNHCR said most of the 47 sent back to Cameroon had submitted asylum claims in Nigeria.

“Their forcible return is in violation of the principle of non-refoulement, which constitutes the cornerstone of international refugee law,” it said in a statement.

“The returns were carried out despite UNHCR’s efforts and engagement with the authorities,” the agency said.

“UNHCR reminds Nigeria of its obligations under international and Nigerian law, and urges the Nigerian Government to refrain from forcible returns of Cameroonian asylum-seekers back to their country of origin.”

Non-refoulement, a French term, is the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum-seekers to go back to a country where they could be persecuted.

Human rights groups have called on Cameroon to ensure those detained get a fair trial and are well-treated.

An estimated 30,000 English-speakers have fled Cameroon to Nigeria since Cameroonian President Paul Biya flooded both English-speaking regions with troops, imposed curfews, conducted raids and slapped restrictions on travel.

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