Johannesburg – United States troops and their French and Israeli counterparts stationed at Salak base in northern Cameroon must be questioned and held accountable over their knowledge of torture conducted on site by the local counter-terrorism force, the Rapid Intervention Battalion.

A recent Amnesty report describes how mostly Muslim men, women, the disabled and children as young as seven were held at Salak base – a “hub” of US security operations in the region – for being “extremists” and allegedly supporting Boko Haram, but who Amnesty described as “just ordinary people who were at the wrong place at the wrong time”.

Torture included being bound, hung and beaten with planks containing nails, burning, finger nail pulling, being forced to drink urine and being forced to eat pork.

Evidence of an American presence at the base has been documented in the Amnesty report and was also revealed in an investigation by The Intercept, which also revealed a lesser but definite French and Israeli presence.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“The United States is supportive of Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalion, sending some 300 troops and millions of dollars for counter-terrorism operations. This is yet another example of the way in which American ‘War on Terror’ policy is exported to Africa at the expense of the rights of African people and Muslims in particular.”

“For US officials to deny or pretend that abuses aren’t happening – and indeed to insist that ‘all military assistance included human rights law training’ is disingenuous and begs the question: what kind of human rights are we talking about when victims of US-sponsored militaries include innocent children, women and the disabled?”

“For the United States President to say that ‘torture works’, and for officials of that country and their allies to be in close proximity to torture effectively gives a rubber stamp to serious abuses which history has taught us can become indiscriminate.”

“CAGE calls for the withdrawal of US and other foreign military assistance for the abusive Rapid Intervention Battalion, for all perpetrators of ‘War on Terror’ violence against civilians to be held accountable in Cameroon, and for a return to equal justice for all.”

Press enquiries:

Karen Jayes


(CC image courtesy of US Army Africa on Flickr)

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)