October 7, 2019
Scores Still Held for Political Activism
Cameroon President Paul Biya ordered the release on October 4, 2019 of a prominent opposition leader, Maurice Kamto. The president also ordered the release of other members and supporters of Kamto’s party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC). Kamto and the other detainees were released on October 5.
Kamto, along with over 200 MRC members and supporters, was arrested between January 26 and 28 after countrywide peaceful protests. At least 350 more party members and supporters, including its vice president Mamadou Mota, were arrested between June 1 and 2 after they tried to hold demonstrations across the country.
“The release of Kamto and other opponents is excellent news,” said Lewis Mudge, central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “But Kamto, his allies, and supporters should never have been arrested and prosecuted in the first place for simply organizing peaceful protests.”
Kamto denounced the results of presidential elections in October 2018 and was facing trial before the Yaoundé Military Court on charges of insurrection, hostility against the homeland, criminal association, threats to public order, rebellion, and inciting insurrection, crimes that could carry the death penalty. The next hearing was scheduled for October 8. All charges against Kamto have been dropped.
Menkem Sother, a lawyer for Kamto, told Human Rights Watch that while he welcomed the news of Kamto’s release, 60 other party leaders, members, and supporters were still awaiting trial.
Cameroon: Maurice Kamto and other opposition activists are released, but rule of law reforms still urgently needed
Tagged: Amnesty International, Cameroon, Human Rights Watch