Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Cameroon
|Publisher||International Federation for Human Rights|
|Publication Date||22 March 2006|
|Cite as||International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Cameroon, 22 March 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/48747ca9c.html [accessed 23 September 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.|
Continued harassment of MDDHL and its members2
In 2005, members of the Movement for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms (Mouvement pour la défense des droits de l'Homme et des libertés – MDDHL) were continually harassed and intimidated.
Of the numerous judicial proceedings that involved MDDHL at the end of 2004, two ended in acquittals and the others were still pending.
Acquittal of Messrs. Blaise Yacoubou and Aminou Mohamadou
Messrs. Blaise Yacoubou and Aminou Mohamadou, MDDHL members, had been prosecuted since September 2004 for "disturbing the functioning of a public service" (Article 185 of the Criminal Code), following a dispute they had with Mr. André Dimbeng, head of the Ndoujoula district, while they were investigating alleged human rights violations in this district in April 2003. The hearing, first scheduled for 29 September 2004 before the Maroua Court of First Instance, was postponed until 22 December 2004 then until 26 January 2005. On those two occasions, Mr. Patrick Herzig, a Swiss lawyer commissioned by the Observatory and the Geneva section of the Swiss League for Human Rights (Ligue Suisse des droits de l'Homme – LSDH), was unable to obtain a visa.
On 26 January 2005, Mr. Jean de Dieu Momo, a defence lawyer mandated by the Observatory, called for the hearing to be postponed. This request was supported by the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms (Commission nationale des droits de l'Homme et des libertés – CNDHL), which wanted to intervene before the Cameroonian authorities in order to obtain authorisation for Mr. Herzig to attend the hearing.
The latter was postponed until 23 February 2005 and then to 23 March 2005 when Mr. Herzig had obtained a visa and was able to attend. The court recognised the defendants' innocence and dismissed the case as unfounded.
The Elise Monthé case
On 10 December 2003, Mrs. Elise Monthé had entered the MDDHL premises in Maroua, after declaring that she was the wife of the association's president, Mr. Abdoulaye Math. She had threatened to accuse him of rape if he tried to throw her out and then physically assaulted him. Mr. Math had lodged a complaint for "destruction of property" and "assault and battery". Mrs. Monthé had lodged a complaint for "swindling" after having changed its grounds three times.
On 27 April 2005, the two cases were examined by the Maroua Court of First Instance. Mrs. Monthé was ordered to pay a fine of 25,000 CFA francs (38 euros) while Mr. Math was sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of 3 million CFA francs (4,570 euros) in damages to be paid to Mrs. Monthé.
Mr. Momo, Mr. Math's lawyer, appealed the decision before the Court of Appeal. By the end of 2005, the date for the hearing had not been set yet.
The Semdi Soulaye case
MDDHL had filed three suits against Mr. Semdi Soulaye, a former member of the MDDHL Executive Board.
– The first case, for "aggravated breach of trust" and "unauthorised possession of another person's property" was finally heard on 26 January 2005 after several postponements. At that hearing, Mr. Momo pleaded lack of jurisdiction and requested that the case be sent to the Public Prosecutor's office, which had, erroneously, charged the defendant with "issuing not-sufficient-fund cheques". Mr. Soulaye was actually being accused of drawing money from the bank on the MDDHL cheques that he was not authorised to sign. The judge refused to hear Mr. Momo, and dismissed the case against Mr. Soulaye for lack of evidence. Mr. Momo did not appeal the decision.
– At the end of 2005, the second complaint against Mr. Soulaye and the managing director of the Crédit du Sahel bank, filed with the Public Prosecutor on 5 December 2003, for "forgery, use of false documents and aggravated breach of trust", was being investigated, but no date had been set for the hearing. MDDHL had accused the bank's managing director of having illegally withdrawn funds from the MDDHL account with the assistance of Mr. Soulaye.
– The third complaint, for "usurpation of title, assault and blackmail", was initiated through a direct summons dated 5 January 2004. After the first hearing on 14 January 2004, the case was postponed until 22 December 2004, then 26 January 2005. At that hearing, the court found Mr. Soulaye not guilty of "usurpation of title, assault and blackmail". He was, however, found guilty of "libel" and ordered to pay a fine of 1,200 CFA francs and 25,000 CFA francs in damages (38 euros) to MDDHL.
On his side, Mr. Soulaye had filed two complaints against MDDHL:
– The first complaint, for "breach of trust", had been lodged in December 2003. Mr. Soulaye claimed that half the money that Amnesty International had sent for the MDDHL president's travel to France in 2002 should have been paid to him. On 26 January 2005, after the hearing had been postponed several times, the judge acquitted Mr. Math on the basis of a letter from Amnesty International asserting that the money was meant for him alone.
– The second complaint, for "unfair dismissal without compensation", had been lodged on 29 September 2003. In April 2004, the Maroua Court of First Instance had ordered MDDHL to pay 3,320,255 CFA francs (5,071 euros) to Mr. Soulaye. On 6 April 2004, MDDHL had filed a request to suspend the application of the decision.
On 29 November 2004, although the appeal was still underway, a bailiff had seized the MDDHL properties. Part of the electronic equipment had been returned on 1 December 2004.
On 6 December 2004, the Court of Appeal had confirmed the decision of the Maroua Court and MDDHL brought the case before the Supreme Court of Appeal. The MDDHL properties had been seized again on 15 December 2004.
In January 2005, Mr. Momo filed two complaints to "oppose the order to pay the fixed amount" and to "obtain an order for the suspension of seizure and the restitution of property seized". On 6 December 2005, the trials were adjourned for deliberation until 16 December 2005, when they were rescheduled, respectively, for 7 February 2006 and 5 January 2006. On 5 January 2006, the Court ordered that the seized properties be returned.
The Ahmadou Ahidjo Jamot / CAMTEL case
By the end of 2005, the MDDHL complaint against Mr. Ahmadou Ahidjo Jamot, representative of CAMTEL, the national telecom company, for "abuse of authority" after the association's phone lines were cut in December 2002, had still not been investigated. Since the defendant did not appear in court, the hearing before the lower chamber of the Maroua Court of First Instance was postponed several times. The hearing, scheduled for 14 December 2005, was then adjourned until 2 February 2006.
Conviction of Mr. Zra Kodji Mamoudou
On 15 May 2005, Mr. Zra Kodji Mamoudou, head of the Mokolo section of MDDHL, was summoned to appear before a judge to answer to a complaint lodged by Mr. Mathieu Boykette for "violation of domicile". Mr. Kodji Mamoudou had taken a photo of Mr. Boykette's son who had been chained by his father in the courtyard of their house for more than 48 hours.
On 14 June 2005, Mr. Kodji Mamoudou was found guilty of "publishing ambiguous images" and "violation of domicile" and was given a three-month prison term, suspended for three years, and ordered to pay a 10,000 CFA francs fine (15 euros), 30,000 CFA francs (45 euros) in damages to Mr. Boykette and 43,012 CFA francs (65 euros) for judicial costs. The day after the ruling, Mr. Zra Kodji Mamoudou turned to the Court of Appeal, which confirmed the sentence on 9 August 2005.
Arbitrary detention and judicial proceedings against Messrs. Alhadji Djafarou, Pierre Zra and Oumarou Deli
On 17 June 2005, Messrs. Alhadji Djafarou, Pierre Zra and Oumarou Deli, MDDHL members, were arbitrarily held in the Mokolo prison for having denounced, in December 2003, the appointment of Mr. Abdouramane as the assistant to the village chief. Mr. Abdouramane had been accused of violations against the village population.
On 17 August 2005, the Mokolo Court of First Instance sentenced Mr. Djafarou for "forgery", "use of forged documents" and "disturbing the course of justice" to a six-month suspended prison term and Messrs. Zra and Deli to a three-month suspended prison term. They appealed to the Far North Court of Appeal, which granted them parole on 17 November 2005 pending receipt of the case file.
By the end of 2005, the file had still not been transmitted to the Court of Appeal and the case was still pending.
Absence of judgement on the attack on Mrs. Christine Siamta
By the end of 2005, the Yagoua Court had not yet pronounced its verdict concerning the complaint lodged in 2003 by Mrs. Christine Siamta, head of the Yagoua section of MDDHL. Mrs. Siamta had been subjected to ill-treatment by Mr. Kedi Basile, local chief officer of the Cameroon National Water Company, whom she had denounced to the Public Prosecutor for "abuse of authority" and "contempt of users". After the assault, Mrs. Siamta had to spend one month in the hospital and lost use of two of her fingers.
Judicial proceedings against Mr. Adama Mal-Sali3
On 4 May 2005, Mr. Adama Mal-Sali, MDDHL representative at Balaza-Lawane, appeared before the Maroua Court of First Instance, following a complaint lodged by Mr. Amadou Adoum Haman, head of the Balaza-Lawane canton, for "libel and defamatory denunciation". The complaint was lodged after Mr. Adama Mal-Sali, on 23 April 2005, denounced the actions of Mr. Amadou Adoum Haman towards him and towards his opponents (to avoid having the violations he committed reported, the head of canton forbad all villagers from working with Mr. Adama Mal-Sali).
In the absence of the plaintiff, the case was rescheduled for 1 June 2005, when it was postponed again to 3 August 2005 and then to 12 October 2005. On 23 November 2005, the plaintiff 's lawyer appeared for the first time. Since he was not familiar with the case, he requested that it be postponed until 28 December 2005, when it was rescheduled for 1 February 2006.
Furthermore, on 15 December 2005, the Public Prosecutor of the Maroua Court of First Instance, Mr. Koue Kaokamla, summoned Mr. Adama Mal-Sali and threatened him, saying "never write again, because next time I see any of your writings, I'll have you thrown in prison".
On 30 November 2005, Mr. Mal-Sali had helped Mrs. Zakiatou Ousmana, a citizen, to lodge a complaint with Mr. Koue Kaokamla against Mr. Amadou Adoum Haman for "abuse of authority" and "swindling". The authorities in charge of this case were apparently contacted by Mr. Amadou Adoum Haman in order to intimidate and exercise pressure on Mr. Adama Mal-Sali.
Judicial proceedings against Messrs. Alhadji Mamat and Alhadji Mey Ali4
On 25 July 2005, on behalf of the Association of District Inhabitants, Mr. Alhadji Mamat, chief of Sao district in Afadé (northeast Cameroon), lodged a complaint with the police commander in Makary against the Sergeant Enama Pantaleon for "torture and complicity in torture" against the local population.
On 29 July 2005, Mr. Alhadji Mey Ali, president of the NGO Organe de la société civile – OS_civile, filed a complaint with the head of the Gendarmerie in the Far North province in Maroua regarding "acts of torture and cruel treatment" inflicted by Sergeant Enama Pantaleon and his children against the inhabitants of the district.
Following these two complaints, Messrs. Alhadji Mey Ali and Alhadji Mamat were summoned on 11 August 2005 before the Kousseri Court of First Instance for "slanderous denunciation and defamation".
On 25 August 2005, their hearing was postponed until 1 September 2005, then to 22 September 2005 on the grounds that the case had not yet been placed on the Court's agenda. In the absence of Mr. Alhadji Mamat, the court again postponed the case, this time until 13 October 2005, so that he could appear in court. On that day, however, the hearing was adjourned again until 12 January 2006.
Continued harassment of members of ACAT-Littoral5
In 2005, the members of the Christians' Action for the Abolition of Torture in Douala (Action des chrétiens contre la torture – ACAT-Littoral) continued to be subjected to recurrent harassment and intimidation.
On 18 March 2005, Mrs. Madeleine Afité, manager of ACAT-Littoral, was stopped by a police patrol on her way home from attending a training seminar on "Human Rights in the Administration of Justice in Cameroon", in Yaoundé. By the end of 2005, the computer that was confiscated on that occasion had still not been returned.
Furthermore, on 2 November 2005, two officers from the State Security Office came to the ACAT-Littoral head office to talk to Mrs. Afité about a complaint that she had lodged in 2004 against Police commissioner, Mr. Firma Abanda, after she had been questioned in the special police station (commissariat spécial), in Douala. The two officers requested to see the receipt for legal recognition of ACAT and threatened to ban all activities of the organisation. They also made it clear that the movement of all ACAT members was being watched.
Mrs. Afité was hindered in carrying out her activities on several occasions, being regularly prevented from entering the Douala central prison to visit the prisoners.
Continued harassment of Mr. Sylvanus Shukila Binla6
On 18 April 2005, Mr. Sylvanus Shukila Binla, member of the Cameroon House for Human Rights (Maison des droits de l'Homme du Cameroun – MDHC), was arrested after protesting against the bad treatment a police officer inflicted on passengers on a bus in which Mr. Binla was traveling. He was immediately taken to the Bonabéri police station where he spent several hours before ACAT lawyers managed to obtain his release.
[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.]
2. See Annual Report 2004 and report of the judicial observation mission sent by the Observatory and LSDH (Geneva section), Cameroun – Harcèlement judiciaire contre les membres du MDDHL, October 2005.
3. See Urgent Appeal CMR 002/1205/OBS 130.
4. See Urgent Appeals CMR 001/0805/OBS 075, 075.1 and 075.2.
5. See Annual Report 2004.