Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Cameroon
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||14 March 2007|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - Cameroon, 14 March 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747cce29.html [accessed 21 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Judicial proceedings against Messrs. Alhadji Mamat and Alhadji Mey Ali10
By the end of 2006, Mr. Alhadji Mamat, chief of the Sao district in Afadé (northeastern Cameroon), and Mr. Alhadji Mey Ali, director of the NGO Civil Society Organ (Organe de la société civile – OS_civile), were still subjected to judicial proceedings pending before the Kousseri Court of First Instance. The hearing was postponed on numerous occasions in 2006, and no further date had been scheduled.
Messrs. Alhadji Mey Ali and Mamat were accused of "slanderous denunciation and defamation" on August 11, 2005 after Mr. Mamat lodged a complaint against Sergeant Enama Pantaleon for "torture and complicity in torture" against the population of the Sao district in July 2005. At the same time, Mr. Mey Ali also filed a complaint in relation to the same facts with the head of the Gendarmerie of the Far-North province in Maroua.
In addition, on August 28, 2006, Mr. Karim Abani, head of the public relations department of Os_civile, was insulted and threatened by Mr. Simon Nyah Hemou, Sergeant of the Ter gendarmerie squad of Kousseri, in front of the organisation's premises and in the presence of Mr. Mey Ali. Shortly before this incident, Mr. Abani had asked the Major of the Kousseri brigade to examine the complaint filed by a victim which Sergeant Nyah Hemou had previously dismissed. Following Mr. Abani's intervention, the Major had ordered his subordinate to open an investigation into this complaint.
Additionally, Messrs. Mey Ali and Karim Abani were summoned for questioning on November 16, 2006 after Os_civile publicly reported that police officers had abducted and raped a 13-year-old girl on October 14, 2006.
Mr. Mey Ali was released without charge after several hours of questioning, whereas Mr. Abani was charged with "harbouring a criminal" and detained in police custody until November 24, 2006. This accusation was linked to his intervention with the police earlier that day, when officers came to search the land of a certain Mr. Alhadji Hissein, who was wanted for fraud. On this occasion, a crowd gathered in front of Mr. Hussein's house, located near the office of Os_civile, leading Mr. Abani to enter the property and enquire about the situation. Although the police was already on the spot upon Mr. Abani's arrival, the authorities later accused him of facilitating Mr. Hussein's escape. A hearing was set for January 11, 2007 before the Kousseri Court.
All Os_civile members were regularly followed by the police in 2006.
Continued harassment of SCNC members11
Forced disappearance of Mr. Daniel Fonkoua
As of the end of 2006, no further information had been made available about the situation and possible place of detention of Mr. Daniel Fonkoua, former director of the Human Rights Defence Group (HRDG) and a member of the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC), an organisation denouncing the marginalisation of the Anglophone provinces in the north- and southwest of the country and defending the right to self-determination of these regions. SCNC has repeatedly been denied legal recognition by the authorities for the past few years.
On September 10, 2005, a group of armed police officers arrested Mr. Fonkoua at his home, in the context of a series of measures aimed at preventing SCNC from organising a peaceful demonstration scheduled for October 10, 2005 in commemoration of the autonomy of the Anglophone provinces12.
Mr. Fonkoua's relatives could not obtain any information about his situation in 2006 and were repeatedly harassed and watched by the police during the course of the year.
Arbitrary arrests and judicial proceedings against several SCNC activists
On April 27, 2006, 65 SCNC members, including the chairman of the Northwest Province branch, Mr. Hitler Mbinglo, his deputy, Mr. Henry Nyah, and SCNC deputy executive secretary, Mr. Fidelis Chinkwo, were arrested in Oku (Northwest Province) while participating in a meeting convened at the home of one of the members.
All 65 were detained in Oku police station and accused of organising a peaceful rally in favour of the right to self-determination of the Anglophone provinces, scheduled for May 20, 2006 on the occasion of Cameroon's national day. The authorities had previously banned this demonstration.
The 65 SCNC members were charged with "secessionist activities" and released on bail on May 4, 2006.
Messrs. Mbinglo, Chinkwo, Nyah and Martin Ngok, SCNC secretary general, were arrested again on May 7, 2006, while holding a press conference in Bamenda. They were detained at the Bamenda police station and released a few days later.
By the end of 2006 however, all proceedings remained pending.
Ongoing harassment of MDDHL members
The Ahmadou Ahidjo Jamot / CAMTEL case
On February 2, 2006, the Maroua Court of First Instance discharged Mr. Ahmadou Ahidjo Jamot, a representative of the national telecom company CAMTEL. The Movement for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms (Mouvement pour la défense des droits de l'Homme et des libertés – MDDHL) had lodged a complaint against Mr. Jamot for "abuse of authority" in 2003 after the association's phone lines were cut in December 2002. The verdict was handed down in the absence of Mr. Jamot.
Acquittal of Messrs. Djafarou Alhadji, Pierre Zra and Oumarou Deli
In April 2006, Messrs. Alhadji Djafarou, Pierre Zra and Oumarou Deli, all three MDDHL members, were acquitted by the Far-North Provincial Court of Appeal.
The three men were arrested on June 17, 2005 after contesting, in December 2003, the appointment of Mr. Abdouramane as deputy chief of the village of Mogodé. They were then arbitrarily detained in the Mokolo prison for five months. Mr. Abdouramane was notably suspected of violations against the village population.
On August 17, 2005, the Mokolo Court of First Instance sentenced Mr. Djafarou to a six-month suspended prison term for "forgery", "use of forged documents" and "disturbing the course of justice", whereas Messrs. Zra and Deli were condemned to a three-month suspended prison sentence. They appealed against this decision to the Far-North Court of Appeal, which granted them parole on November 17, 2005.
In addition, several judicial proceedings initiated by or against MDDHL remained pending as of the end of 2006, such as: the Elise Monthé case; the Semdi Soulaye and Crédit du Sahel case; and the Christine Siamta case.
Harassment of Messrs. Ahmadou Rhékang and Blaise Yacoubou14
On February 10, 2006, Mr. Ahmadou Rhékang, an MDDHL member, was detained for over two hours in the headquarters of the Far-North provincial division of the criminal investigation police in Maroua, where police officers humiliated him and threatened him with imprisonment if he did not resign from his position within MDDHL.
Mr. Rhékang was arrested upon arrival at the police station where he was to file a complaint on behalf of Mr. Collins Okoro, a Nigerian citizen who asked MDDHL for assistance after he was summoned by the criminal investigation department in a case relating to his professional activities. The officers in charge of the inquiry had then confiscated Mr. Okoro's residence permit.
Following Mr. Rhékang's arrest, Mr. Blaise Yacoubou, head of the MDDHL protection department and office administrator who first initiated the complaint, was summoned by the chief of the provincial division and insulted by the officer who brought him the summons.
On March 1, 2006, Mr. Yacoubou was again called in for questioning by the criminal investigation department, three days after he coordinated a training seminar for MDDHL members in Maroua.
Sentencing, arbitrary detention and release on bail of Mr. Adama Mal-Sali15
On May 3, 2006, following numerous adjournments, the Maroua Court of First Instance sentenced Mr. Adama Mal-Sali, an MDDHL representative in Balaza-Lawane, to six months' imprisonment for "libel and slanderous denunciations", on the basis of a complaint lodged in April 2005 by Mr. Amadou Adoum Haman, community leader of the Balaza-Lawane Canton (lawan). Mr. Mal-Sali had denounced the malpractices and abuses perpetrated by Mr. Adoum Haman, who had forbidden the villagers under his jurisdiction to report about their situation to Mr. Mal-Sali.
Mr. Mal-Sali was released on bail on June 14, 2006 on the order of the Attorney General.
Continued harassment of ACAT-Littoral and MDHC members16
Members of the Cameroon House for Human Rights (Maison des droits de l'Homme du Cameroun – MDHC), and in particular its head coordinator Ms. Madeleine Afité, who also acts as chair of the Douala branch of the Action by Christians Against Torture (Action des chrétiens pour l'abolition de la torture à Douala – ACAT-Littoral), continued to be repeatedly intimidated in 2006. MDHC premises remained under constant police surveillance, while the association's members, as well as lawyers and victims visiting the organisation were regularly followed by police and security officers.
On April 15, 2006 for instance, the car of Mr. Maxime Bissay, an ACAT-Littoral and MDHC member, was followed by an unidentified vehicle over several kilometres. Mr. Bissay, who was along with friends and feared for their safety, decided to pull over and seek refuge in a parish nearby. They finally decided to abandon their car and walk home through by-roads after they realised that the vehicle following them had stopped and was obviously waiting for them.
[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]
10. See Annual Report 2005.
12. On October 1, 1961, Anglophone provinces were granted independence and joined a federal State along with the Francophone regions. In 1972 however, this federal system was replaced by a unitary State dominated by the Francophone community.
13. See Annual Report 2005.
14. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeal CMR 001/0306/OBS 022.
15. See Annual Report 2005 and Urgent Appeal CMR 002/1205/OBS 130.1.
16. See Annual Report 2005.