Human Rights Watch Wednesday, September 2019, urged Cameroonian authorities to end unlawful arrests, incommunicado detention, and torture of citizens.
The call comes in after Cameroon’s President Paul Biya ordered the release on of a prominent opposition leader, Maurice Kamto and the release of other members and supporters of Kamto’s party, the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC).
Lewis Mudge, central Africa director at Human Rights Watch says their release was excellent news, but drew to light the fact that unlawful detention and abuse of detainees are endemic in Cameroon.
In an article on its website, the rights watchdog said many people perceived as opposing the government are held often on spurious charges related to national security and terrorism. The organization cited the case of Abdul Karim Ali, an outspoken Anglophone activist and political analyst, who was arrested on September 25 and denied access to a lawyer for five days, in violation of Cameroonian law.
Abdul Karim Ali was taken to the State Defense Secretariat (Secrétariat d’État à la défense, SED) in Yaoundé, after his arrest. His whereabouts were finally made public on September 30 when he was taken before the Yaoundé Military Court and charged with acts of terrorism, financing terrorism, and secession.
Abdul Karim’s lawyers say that his arrest was unlawful and filed a habeas corpus request to the Yaoundé High Court.
Presidential Pardons in Cameroon
On August 30, 2017, a presidential decree read on state radio indicated that President Paul Biya had decided to drop charges against Nkongho Felix Agbor, Fontem Neba, Paul Ayah Abine and others arrested during unrest in the North-West and South-West regions of Cameroon.
According to the decree, the decision was taken in line with the various measures already taken by authorities to bring pacific solutions to concerns expressed by populations from the restive regions of Cameroon.
On December 13, 2018, Cameroon’s Defense Minister issued a statement announcing that 289 people who had been arrested for offences claimed to have been committed during the Anglophone crisis will be released, after being pardoned by the President. However the defense minister stated that the pardon will neither be extended to criminals, murderers or other dangerous terrorists nor to those involved in commanding or planning the damaging security crisis in the English speaking regions of the country.
On October 4, during peace talks launched by President Biya to end fighting between insurgents and the military, he announced he will dropped arrested for their alleged roles in a two – year separatist uprising, but leaders dismissed the move as a political stunt and pledged to keep fighting.