Human rights breaches by Russian paramilitary groups, in Somalia and in Cameroon

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


On Thursday, Parliament adopted three resolutions assessing human rights violations committed by the Wagner Group, atrocities in Somalia and the situation in Cameroon.

Human rights violations by private military and security companies, particularly the Wagner Group

MEPs condemn in the strongest terms the heinous crimes committed by the Russian paramilitary organisation the Wagner Group and related private military entities in various conflict areas. The Russian state appears to bear responsibility for the funding, training, management and operational command of these paramilitary groups, MEPs say, while pointing out that the Wagner Group’s activities correspond with the spread of Russia’s influence in conflict zones. The Wagner Group, and other Russian-led security contractors, should be treated as proxy organisations of the Russian state, MEPs insist.

The resolution notes that the Wagner Group is present in many conflicts around the world, notably in Ukraine, Syria, Sudan, Mozambique, Libya, the Central African Republic and Venezuela. Given their track record of violations, MEPs welcome the statement made by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on the imminent adoption of targeted EU sanctions against “relevant individuals and entities affiliated with the Wagner Group”, as well as individuals and entities working with them. They call for these sanctions to include travel bans and assets freezes on Wagner operatives.

In addition, the resolution urges all countries using the services of the Wagner Group and its affiliates, particularly the Central African Republic, to cut all ties with the group and its employees. It calls on the European Commission to ensure that EU funds cannot, under any circumstances, be used by recipient countries to fund private military companies with such terrible human rights records.

The text was adopted by 585 votes in favour, 40 against and 43 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (25.11.2021)

The situation in Somalia

Parliament expresses its grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Somalia. MEPs condemn all violations and abuses of human rights and indiscriminate attacks on civilians, humanitarian workers, journalists, election officials and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) by terrorist groups, notably Al-Shabaab.

The resolution recalls that lasting stability and peace in Somalia can only be achieved through social inclusion and good governance. It calls, therefore, on the country’s leaders to step up efforts to complete the country’s electoral process and finish holding inclusive and credible elections for the Lower House of Parliament before the end of this year. The longer the election process is delayed, the more resources will be diverted away from important national priorities, such as responding to the humanitarian emergencies, MEPs point out.

Somalia is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe, with an estimated 5.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance and over 2.7 million facing emergency levels of food insecurity across the country, MEPs note. They call on the EU, its member states and international partners to urgently increase humanitarian assistance and provide additional assistance to the country’s COVID-19 response, in particular through vaccine sharing and the provision of essential medical supplies.


The text was adopted by 625 votes in favour, 6 against and 55 abstentions. It will be available in full here (25.11.2021).

The human rights situation in Cameroon

MEPs are deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Cameroon. The resolution notes that the country is facing a number of political and security challenges simultaneously, including threats from terrorist group Boko Haram in its Far North region and an internal armed separatist rebellion, which has been ongoing for almost five years in its Anglophone Northwest and Southwest regions. The latter conflict between militias and state authorities has so far killed thousands of people, witnessed heinous abuses, and led to a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions.

Parliament urges both the Cameroonian government and the political and military leaders of separatist groups to agree on a humanitarian ceasefire and encourages the parties to the conflict to agree on confidence-building measures, such as freeing non-violent political prisoners and lifting school boycotts. MEPs call on President Paul Biya’s government and the Anglophone separatists to immediately re-initiate peace talks, while pleading for the international community, especially the African Union, Central African states and the EU, to help facilitate dialogue by offering to take on a mediation role.

The resolution also calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop bringing people to trial before military tribunals, in particular civilians, predetermining outcomes and imposing the death penalty, which is unlawful under international human rights law. MEPs remind Cameroon that it must uphold the right of all citizens to a fair trial before independent courts of law and recall that military courts should not have jurisdiction over the civilian population.


The text was adopted by 614 votes in favour, 32 against and 40 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (25.11.2021)

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