April 26, 2018
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the rule of law, and the integrity of legal systems through advocacy, education and legal research. LRWC is a volunteer-run NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
LRWC is concerned by reports of death threats against Mr. Jan Cappelle, founder of OFFGO and lawyer Elvis Brown and persistent judicial harassment of OFFGO members. LRWC repeats calls by the Observatory for remedial action and also requests immediate action by the Government of Cameroon to protect the lives of Jan Cappelle and Elvis Brown and their families and to prevent and punish the death threats made against them.
Reports of death threats and 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 has also requested your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cameroon.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment and death threats targeting several members of the OFFGO, a group of farmers founded in September 2015 to promote organic farming and environmental protection, and to oppose land grabbing and work for the protection of the cross-river gorilla in Mbengwi, in the North-West Region of Cameroon.
According to the information received, on April 13, 2018, a man who allegedly worked with billionaire businessman Mr. Baba Ahmadou Danpullo called and threatened to kill OFFGO’s lawyer Mr. Elvis Brown and his family if they did not “drop the file”, referring to OFFGO’s complaints before the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF). The caller knew details of the presence of Mr. Brown and his family in Bamenda, including related to their home and the children’s school. He also threatened to kill Mr. Jan Cappelle, founder of OFFGO.
A complaint was filed before the Police National Security Department in Mbengwi, who latter summoned the caller to present himself by April 18, 2018. The caller, who received the summons on April 16, 2018, did not present himself.
On April 18, 2018, the same person called Mr. Elvis Brown again and told him to “prepare very well”. On April 19, 2018, Mr. Elvis Brown received another text message reading “watch and see how I make your team suffer”, “you should be sorry for your friends back here. I am merciless”, “I am heartless I have no feelings” and “I will teach your team a bitter lesson. You will all suffer for destabilising Cameroon”.