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Cameroon: Activist Held Arbitrarily For 200 Days

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The three men were presented before the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé three times. During their third appearance, they were remanded to custody by the Examining Magistrate on accusations of ‘hostility against the fatherland’; ‘failure to report’; ‘secession’, and ‘rebellion’. 

Abdul Karim Ali’s close family have been forced into hiding after receiving threats. Amnesty International learned that Abdul Karim Ali’s wife has received threats through anonymous calls, which have led her to flee their home. The calls warned her not to alert people outside Cameroon about his situation and asked her to bring her husband and family’s passports to the military who were detaining Abdul Karim Ali.

This is not the first time Abdul Karim Ali has been detained, apparently in relation to his activism. On 25 September 2019 he was arrested and taken to the Secretary of State Defense detention centre where he was held, initially without access to a lawyer for five days, before finally being released without charge weeks later (1 November 2019).

Since 2016, the Cameroon authorities have been imprisoning hundreds of people simply for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. For example, five journalists are currently detained, as well as 62 people who protested at demonstrations organized by the political party the MRC. There were also hundreds of arrests at peaceful protests against the perceived discrimination against people living in the country’s Anglophone regions. Many of the detained individuals have faced convictions by military courts on charges that criminalize the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in violation of international human rights standards.

The detention of people simply for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly is arbitrary and it violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Cameroon.

Furthermore, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, to which Cameroon is a signatory, prohibits enforced disappearance. According to the Convention “enforced disappearance is considered to be the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” As a state party to the Convention, Cameroon has the obligation to “refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty”.


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