US military launches inquiry into torture allegations at Cameroon base
Posted August 4
The US military has started a formal inquiry into allegations that US-backed Cameroonian troops tortured suspected terrorists at a base that was also frequently used by US military advisers.
Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the head of US Africa Command, which oversees all US troops in Africa, initiated the inquiry.
"I can confirm that at the request of the AFRICOM commander an inquiry is being conducting into the Cameroon torture allegations," US Army Major Audricia Harris told CNN Friday.
The allegations were first made by Amnesty International in a report published in July. Their report said dozens of suspected supporters of the terror group Boko Haram "were held incommunicado, tortured, and sometimes killed by Cameroonian security forces in facilities run by the military and intelligence services."
Amnesty alleges that Cameroon's Rapid Intervention Battalion, an elite army unit, was one of the units that engaged in torture, doing so at the military base known as Salak, near the northern city of Maroua.
The US military has acknowledged working with the unit in its effort to help Cameroon's government combat Boko Haram, an ISIS-linked terrorist group that has killed thousands.
"At any time up to 300 US military personnel advise and assist the Cameroonian Rapid Intervention Battalion as part of a broader multinational effort to counter violent extremist organizations in the Lake Chad Basin region," Harris told CNN.
While their report found "no evidence to suggest that any foreign military personnel from international partners were involved in the commission of torture," the possibility of torture being carried out at a base being used by US troops helped prompt the inquiry.
Amnesty called on the US and the French government, which it says also used the base, "to investigate the degree to which its personnel may have been aware of the widespread practices of illegal detention and torture at the base."
US special operations forces advisers have been assisting local African militaries in the Lake Chad Basin area as those countries battle Boko Haram.