Press Statement on the recent arrests and detention of about 200 members of opposition parties following the protests of 26 January 2019

    The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is following with interest the developments in the human rights situation in Cameroon, a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Charter), and is deeply concerned by the recent arrests and detention of more than 200 members of opposition parties following the protests of 26 January 2019.

    The Commission was informed that the protests were organised following the call of the main opposition leader Maurice Kamto, a candidate in the presidential elections, to contest the results of the October 2018 presidential elections confirmed by the Constitutional Council, and denounce the ongoing human rights violations in Cameroon, particularly in the North West and South West regions, as well as the widespread corruption.

    During the protest on 26 January 2019, which was marked by the excessive use of force by the police, live ammunition was reportedly fired by the latter resulting in several injuries. The repression was followed by the arrest and detention of more than 200 members of Cameroon’s opposition parties in the country’s main cities. 

    The Commission has been informed of the arrest of key opposition party leaders, including Mr Maurice Kamto, allegedly charged with “unlawful assembly”, “rebellion”, “hostility to the homeland”, “insurrection”, “disturbing the peace”, “conspiracy”, “sedition”, and “collusion”. Most of them are reportedly being held in pre-trial detention for a period of six months by the Yaoundé Military Court since 12 February 2019.

    The Commission strongly condemns the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials as well as the use of lethal force against protesters and unarmed civilians.

    The Commission is particularly concerned about reports of the possible torture faced by persons arrested, including political party leaders.

    It is also very concerned about the gradual deterioration of social cohesion in Cameroon against a backdrop of incitement to ethnic hatred and inter-tribal violence.

    The Commission deplores the continuing deterioration of the socio-political situation in the country, and reminds the Cameroonian authorities that the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights guarantees the right of a citizen to participate in the management of his country’s public affairs (Article 13), respect for life and physical and moral integrity (Article 4), freedom of assembly and peaceful demonstration (Article 11) and the right to peace and security (Article 23).

    The Commission would also like to recall that the conditions for the use of force and firearms are governed by General Principles No. 21 on the Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Officials in Africa (the Guidelines). The use of force must be regulated under national law in conformity with General Comment No. 3 on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Right to Life (Article 4) and other relevant regional and international human rights standards and is an exceptional measure (21.1.2).

    In addition, General Comment No. 3 on the Right to Life (Article 4) sets out a fundamental principle on the use of force in law enforcement and stipulates that “the right to assemble and to demonstrate is integral to democracy and human rights. Even if acts of violence occur during such events participants retain their rights to bodily integrity and other rights and force may not be used except in accordance with the principles of necessity and proportionality. Firearms may never be used simply to disperse an assembly”.

    The Commission calls on the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to fulfil its obligation to protect and therefore urges it to:

    -          Ensure respect for and protection of the rights enshrined in the African Charter;

    -          Ensure that all Cameroonians, without exception, enjoy their rights in accordance with the African Charter;

    -          Refrain from all disproportionate use of force against protesters by fully complying with regional and international standards on the use of force and lethal weapons by law enforcement officials;

    -          Ensure that arrests and detention have been made in accordance with the principles established by the Guidelines on Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa (Luanda Guidelines);

    -          Conduct impartial and independent investigations into all human rights violations in order to identify and prosecute the alleged perpetrators;

    -          Guarantee the right to fair trial before ordinary courts to all persons arrested by formally charging them or releasing them unconditionally;

    -          Deploy every effort to ensure the stability of the country for the effective enjoyment of their rights by all Cameroonians.

    The African Commission continues to monitor the human rights situation in Cameroon.

     

    Commissioner Rémy Ngoy Lumbu

     Commissioner in charge of monitoring the human rights situation in the Republic of Cameroon

     Banjul, 6 March 2019

      Properties

      Date: 06 March 2019

      Links


      Translate page

      Contact Us

      • 31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District
      • Western Region P.O. Box 673 Banjul
      • The Gambia
      • Tel: (220) 441 05 05, 441 05 06
      • Fax: (220) 441 05 04
      • E-mail: au-banjul@africa-union.org

      ACHPR Newsletter

      Subscribe to receive news about activities, sessions and events.
      © 2019 African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights