Amnesty calls Serbia to stop selling weapons to Cameroon

NEWS 19.07.2018 22:10
Source: Reuters/Emmanuel Braun

Amnesty International has called Serbia to stop exporting weapons to Cameroon after a video showed what seemed to be soldiers using Serbian-made arms, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) said on Thursday.

Amnesty International said in its report on crimes committed by the military in Cameroon that “a video shows the soldiers using either a Galil or a Zastava M21, in addition to Kalashnikov-style rifles. While AK-type weapons are common, the weapon we strongly believe was used in the execution – either a Galil or the very similar Zastava M21 – is comparatively rare. The Small Arms Survey lists the Galil as only “occasional” in sub-Saharan Africa among governments, and as unknown among non-state actors. The only force in the area carrying Galil’s are a small subset of the Cameroon Army. The Zastava M21 is not specifically reported in the Small Arms Survey online database”.

A spokesman for Amnesty told BIRN that Cameroon has used Serbian-made weapons in a pattern of „systematic violations“ of human rights.

“Given the credible evidence of a Zastava M21 being used by Cameroonian soldiers to carry out the horrific extrajudicial executions of two women and two young children, Serbia – a major supplier of small arms to Cameroon – should suspend further supplies,” Patrick Wilcken, an arms-control researcher at Amnesty International, told BIRN.

“This is not the first time Amnesty International has documented human rights abuses by Cameroonian forces using Serbian small arms. Rather, it reflects a pattern of systematic violations,” Wilcken said speaking after both his organization and the Bellingcat investigative journalism poral verified that the weapons used by soldiers in the video wer Zastava M21 rifles.

BIRN said it had contacted Serbia’s Trade Ministry which is in charge of issuing export licences for weapons and military equipment and the Defence Ministry but received no reply from either to its request for information about possible arms sales to Cameroon.

BIRN said that data from the UN/Arms Trade Treaty shows that “Cameroon has been one of the largest recipients of Serbian weapons since 2013”.