May 11, 2017
CMR 001 / 0716 / OBS 056.3
Judicial harassment /
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cameroon.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release on bail and ongoing judicial harassment of Messrs. Abue Philip Kpwe, Cyprian Azong, Bernard Fuh and Divine Biame, members of the Esu Youths Development Association (EYDA). The four are part of a group of community leaders opposing land-grabbing undertaken on the land of the Esu community (North-West Cameroon) by Mr. Baba Ahmadou Danpullo, a billionaire businessman, cattle rancher, tea plantation owner and a member of the Central Committee of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) party.
According to the information received, on May 4, 2017, Messrs. Abue Philip Kpwe, Cyprian Azong, Bernard Fuh and Divine Biame were released on bail from Bamenda Central Prison, following a bail order issued by the Appeal Court of the North-West Region on December 20, 2016, which had not been implemented until now (see background information).
The Observatory would like to recall that Messrs. Abue Philip Kpwe, Cyprian Azong, Bernard Fuh and Divine Biame were detained since May 2016 as part of an ongoing trial targetingfive other Esu leaders, namely Messrs. Redemption Godlove, Ephraim Kagha Mbong, Emmanuel Wung, Ivo Meh and Williams Meh, on trumped charges of “depredation by band” (Section 236.1 of the Penal Code). If convicted, the nine face 10 to 20 years in prison. HRH Fon Kum Achuo II, chief of the village, is also facing charges related to two complaints filed on behalf of Mr. Baba Ahmadou Danpullo. The case is still pending without a scheduled date for the next hearing.
Furthermore, Me Robert Fon, lawyer of the nine Esu community leaders, and Mr. Chris Mbunwe, a journalist of the Post Newspaper in Bamenda, who are accused of defamation through a complaint filed by Mr. Baba Ahmadou Danpullo on February 24, 2016 regarding an interview, also had their hearings postponed on several occasions, including on November 9, 2016.
On March 16, 2017, Me Robert Fon was arrested and detained until March 27, 2017. Initially arrested on charges of “acts of terrorism” and “insurrection”, he was released due to lack of evidence. Me Robert Fon suffers from a heart condition, which was severely aggravated by his arbitrary detention.