Cameroon: Opposition Leaders Arrested

January 30, 2019

Cameroonian opposition leader Maurice Kamto was arrested in Douala on January 28, 2019 for what appears to be politically motivated reasons.

Cameroonian authorities have arrested political opponents and violently broken up peaceful protests since January 26, 2019. The country’s opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, was arrested in Douala on January 28 for what appears to be politically motivated reasons and remains in detention.

The crackdown appears to be coordinated, as opposition figures allied with Kamto – Albert Dzongang, Christian Penda Ekoka, Alain Fogue, and Célestin Djamen – were also arrested on January 28. Djamen was arrested and taken from a hospital where he was receiving treatment for injuries suffered on January 26 while protesting.

“The Cameroonian government’s crackdown shows that it is unwilling to accept a role for opposition parties, sending a chilling message to those who would dare challenge the status quo,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The latest crackdown was consistent with the methods of a government whose security forces have committed grave abuses against civilians and dissenting voices in recent years.”

The government should free all those arrested or charge them with a crime, permit protests to go forward, and investigate and punish police violence, Human Rights Watch said.

The whereabouts of Kamto and his colleagues are currently unknown. Human Rights Watch spoke with Emmanuel Simh, a lawyer for Kamto and the others detained, who confirmed that he filed a request to the General Prosecutor in the capital, Yaoundé, seeking access to his clients. He has yet to be provided access. Under Cameroonian law, the police must present any person accused of a crime before a judge within 48 hours, which can be renewed twice.

The arrests follow a violent crackdown on protesters by Biya’s government against Kamto’s supporters who were gathered across Douala on January 26. The protesters called for a recount of the vote, amongst other demands. Witness accounts, medical records, video clips, and images obtained by Human Rights Watch show the heavy-handed and targeted reaction of the Cameroonian state security agents toward the protesters.

As the protest started, police officers, including elements of the Équipes spéciales d’intervention rapide, a special police unit, used teargas and rubber bullets from close range to disperse the crowd, including demonstrators. Witnesses reported chaotic scenes as people fled.

Among those injured was Michelle Ndoki, a well-known lawyer close to Kamto, and Célestin Djamen, both shot in the leg at close range with rubber bullets. Other protesters were treated in several hospitals in Douala for minor injuries after police beat them. (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS) (FRANCAIS)

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Arrestation du Professeur Maurice KAMTO
Déclaration de la Société française pour le Droit international

Lors de sa réunion du 2 février 2019, le Conseil de la Société a adopté la présente déclaration :

Nous avons appris avec consternation l’arrestation du Professeur Maurice Kamto, membre éminent de la Société française pour le Droit international depuis de nombreuses années. Nous n’entendons pas nous ingérer dans les affaires intérieures de la République du Cameroun mais nous souhaitons attirer l’attention sur les principes fondamentaux du droit international, que notre Société a vocation à défendre et à promouvoir. Nous rappelons que la souveraineté, si elle confère des droits aux États, leur impose aussi des devoirs, y compris à l’égard de leurs propres ressortissants.

La République du Cameroun a souvent dans le passé manifesté son attachement au droit international, notamment devant la Cour internationale de Justice devant laquelle elle a été représentée par le Professeur Kamto. Nous l’appelons solennellement à respecter strictement les principes qui figurent dans la Charte africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples et dans le Pacte international relatif aux droits civils et politiques l’une et l’autre ratifiés par le Cameroun.

Nous assurons Maurice Kamto et ses proches de tout notre soutien et de notre sympathie.

(Facebook, 03/02/19)


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