June 1, 2017
The Law Society of England & Wales published its Trial Observation Report on the hearing that took place on 27 April 2017 at the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé, Cameroon, in the case of Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Neba, and others.
The Law Society found violations of the right to a fair trial, specifically (i) the right to be tried by an independent and impartial tribunal, (ii) the right to defence (access to the case file), (iii) the right to an interpreter, (iv) the right to be tried without undue delay, as well as the right to pre-trial release and the right to physical integrity.
The Law Society made several recommendations to authorities in Cameroon, including:
- That the Military Justice Code and Anti-Terrorism Law be brought in line with international standards, especially regarding (i) military jurisdiction over civilians, (ii) prolonged and unmotivated remand in custody, and (iii) the absence of a preliminary inquiry.
- That defence counsel must have access to the case file without restrictions.
- That adequate interpretation be provided at all stages of the proceedings, as well as translation of documents pertaining to the proceedings.
- That defendants be tried without undue delay and no multiple adjournments be given, especially in cases where defendants are charged with offences carrying the death penalty.
- That defendants be seated during the proceedings and conditions in the courtroom be improved to ensure that the right to a public hearing is respected.
- That authorities welcome international observers and provide information to the extent possible.
For the report, and executive summary, see here: