Good News for the New Year: S.Res.684 Approved Unanimously by the US Senate!!!

In an incredible turn of events, a bipartisan bill aimed at reining in the Cameroon regime was adopted into law by the US Senate at the end of the 116th Congressional Session. Senate Resolution 684 [1] was passed into law on January 1, 2021, in a rare New Year’s Day session that was required because of the need to hold a vote on whether or not to override President Donald Trump’s veto of the Defense Authorization Act. This veto override, which was the first veto override by Congress in Trump’s presidency, passed 81 to 13, and Senator John Boozman (R-AK) proceeded to obtain consent for an additional 5 pieces of legislation, including S.Res.684, just before the session was adjourned. [2,3]

The resolution and its companion legislation in the House constitute an incredible victory for the Ambazonian struggle, as well as for all anticolonial and Panafrican activists, for the following reasons:

1. The resolution urges the Government of Cameroon to release all political prisoners and immediately stop all arbitrary detention, torture, forced disappearances, deaths in custody, and inhumane prison conditions (section 4-F).

2. The resolution details multiple crimes that the Cameroon regime has committed against journalists and others which we believe qualify for investigation under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act. [4]

3. The resolution articulates the need for a Fact-Finding Mission to the war-torn regions of Ambazonia. While not using this exact language, the bill specifies the need for the international community to “maintain calls for the investigation and prosecution of human rights abuses and crimes committed against civilians” (section 7-D-iii).

4. The resolution marks the first time that the US Congress has passed legislation criticizing a country that is part of the “Francafrique” sphere of influence, made up mostly of former French colonies in Africa. The widespread perception that action on this situation by the United States would intrude on France’s sphere of influence and interest is explicit enough that staff people actually stated this to us directly during our visits to lobby on this bill. It’s passage into law represents an override of this neocolonial logic and the prioritization of France as a US ally, and it is therefore a victory for all people who are living within the Francafrique sphere of influence.

5. Ambazonian diaspora activists across the United States organized vigorously to support this bill and its companion legislation in coordinated grassroots lobbying. Tibor Nagy, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs has stated on the record that he has never seen a more organized diaspora community since Ethiopians in the 1990s. In APOCS’s contribution to these efforts, we not only supported these bills, but communicated fact-based critiques of the flaws in the bills in the spirit of collegial information sharing with those congressional staff people seeking to understand the complexities of the situation.[5, 6] Many of our critiques were subsequently addressed by revisions into the text that ended up passing.

We must seize hold of the clear mandate that this legislation provides and use it to guide our action going forward. In specific, this legislation will strengthen our ability to: (i) to demand the release of our prisoners of conscience, (ii) press the United States to investigate alleged human rights abuses through the Global Magnitsky Act, and (iii) continue to press for UN Security Council-mandated Fact Finding Mission. You can help this process by signing the petition supporting our political prisoners’ call for a Fact-Finding Mission here: