March 31, 2017
In response to protests against discrimination and marginalization of the English-speaking population and violations of the 1961 unification agreement, the Government has employed measures that violate international law obligations. A crackdown using measures that violate Cameroon’s international law obligations began in January after four protesters were killed, allegedly by actions of police and security. As part of the crackdown, several leading Anglophone jurists and educators have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, illegitimately charged and are being tried before a military court. Some of the charges carry the death penalty. LRWC sent a letter on 31 March calling for immediate release, withdrawal of charges, discontinuance of military court proceedings and a proper investigation of the deaths of protesters.
Dear President Biya and Prime Minister Yang;
Re: Arbitrary arrest, detention and trial of Anglophone rights advocates
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and others who promote human rights and the rule of law through advocacy, education and research. LRWC is a non-governmental organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
LRWC writes to object to the misuse of criminal law powers to arrest, detain and prosecute jurists, educators and other members of English-speaking communities in Cameroon for exercising their democratic rights to engage in dissent and protest. The arrest, detention, prosecution and trial of Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla and Dr. Fontem Aforteka’A Neba are, according to the facts and law summarized below, are arbitrary and in violation of Cameroon’s domestic law and international law obligations. The Government of Cameroon appears to be wrongly using criminal law powers to silence and punish leading community members calling for reforms to address unequal access by members of the English-speaking minority in Cameroon to education, employment, access to courts and legal remedies, and other essential services. Other prominent Anglophones believed to have been similarly arbitrarily arrested, charged and brought before a military court are: