CIVICUS Monitor Alert – Adjournment of Civil Society Activists’ Trial in Cameroon Shows State Has No Case

Cameroon as a Civic Space is rated as ‘repressed’ by the CIVICUS monitor. CIVICUS have expressed growing concerns of a deepening human rights crisis, due to reports of human rights violations in the Anglophone regions. These violations include the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters, arbitrary arrests, detention without trial, torture, legal harassment, unjust prosecutors, targeting of journalists and media outlets and the shutdown of the internet for months.

Recently, following a court appearance on the 27th July 2017, 3 civil society leaders – Felix Balla Nkongho, Fontem Neba, Mancho Bibixy – remain imprisoned in solitary confinement and on trial for leading peaceful protests. The court was adjourned for a third time since it began 6 months ago. The activists are facing various spurious charges, some of which carry the death penalty, for example treason and terrorism. The trial itself has had some irregularities and a lack of due process. In the latest proceedings, the judge began by kicking out one of the defence attorneys. Whilst the defence team’s representations in English have been mistranslated into French by the court interpreter.

The activists were originally arrested in January 2017 for publicly raising concerns against the marginalisation of Cameroonians in the country’s Anglophone Northwest and South West regions, by the Francophone regime of President Paul Biya. They had called for reforms in the legal and education system. Their organisation – the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) – has been banned.

CIVICUS calls on the Cameroonian authorities to release all detained protesters and ensure that democratic rights to freedom of expression and assembly are respected. They further call on the international community to increase efforts to engage the Biya regime to find lasting solutions to the conflict. They particularly urge the United Nations to intervene on behalf of barrister Nkongho, who has served the UN as a human rights and legal advisor to the UN Mission in Afghanistan, and the other activist leaders on trial.

This article summarises the original article written by the CIVICUS Media team, which can found through this link: http://civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/2904-adjournment-of-civil-society-activists-trial-in-cameroon-shows-state-has-no-case

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