Justice: finally some good news for Cameroon’s Anglophone prisoners

Justice: finally some good news for Cameroon’s Anglophone prisoners

N Melo
by N Melo
April 29, 2022 0

Justice: finally some good news for Cameroon’s Anglophone prisoners

Prosecutor’s office favors reduction of sentences for Anglophone prisoners

Young people arrested in the Northwest region and sentenced to heavy prison terms before the military court of Yaoundé for acts of terrorism and secession, had asked the Court of Appeal of the Center to review the case. In the course of its arguments, the public prosecutor asked the judges of the aforementioned court to take into account the prevailing calm and to grant the convicts extenuating circumstances.

Despite the decision of the lawyers to no longer defend the interests of those prosecuted in the context of the Anglophone crisis in order to challenge the violations of their clients’ rights, some of them have departed from this rule. They took to the courts to save, according to them, the freedom of many people arbitrarily detained in the central prison of Yaounde Kondengui.

During their appearance, Mr. Shim and two of his colleagues pleaded for the release of Jacob Lobte, Ntso Bayoog Eugene, Tayo Invite Kemoa, Bruno Wirba, Eugene Nyuyforan and Numfor Godbve Ngwa, who are being prosecuted before the Yaoundé Military Tribunal (TMY) for acts of terrorism, secession, hostility against the homeland, revolution, insurrection, threats under condition and destruction in coaction. The prosecution accused these individuals of distributing leaflets calling for a general strike and of brutalizing those who did not want to comply with the strike orders.

Arrested in Bamenda in February 2017, all these people had been tried and sentenced in April 2018 to firm prison sentences ranging from 10 to 13 years by the military court. After five years of detention in the Yaoundé-Kondengui central prison, the six people still claim their innocence in this case. They reiterated before the Court of Appeals of the Center during previous hearings their statements made during the debates before the TMY.

They believe that they were unjustly convicted on the basis of mere suspicions or fanciful denunciations. For this reason, they appealed to the Court of Appeals of the Center to re-examine the case following the “severe sentences” handed down to them by the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé.

The April 21, 2022 hearing was devoted to the closing arguments of the government commissioner (public prosecutor) and the defense lawyers’ pleas. During a brief intervention, the representative of the public prosecutor’s office did not return to the facts, which he said had been amply recounted during the debates. He partially reiterated the demands of his colleague from the Military Court before asking the judges of the Court to take into account the fact that the Anglophone crisis is in the phase of appeasement. For this reason, he asked for mitigating circumstances in favor of the six convicts.

During their pleadings. Mr. Shim and his colleagues pressed the government commissioner’s case by asking the judges to simply acquit their clients. “There is no question of talking about mitigating circumstances in this case, but rather the pure and simple release of the convicts who are innocent merchants. To support their argument, the defense lawyers placed the facts in time by recalling the circumstances in which the said facts occurred. They explained that the arrests of their clients took place three months after the beginning of the corporatist strike launched by the lawyers and teachers in the North-West and South-West regions. At that time, they said, it was not a question of secessionist claims, which resulted in killings and other exactions.

Thus, in spite of the “dead town” orders, that is, a general strike in all sectors of activity, the five people convicted had decided to defy the strike and go about their usual business. They were then questioned by the police who, according to their lawyer, charged them with arbitrary offenses.

As an example, he cites the case of Numfor Godbve Ngwa accused of having chased the students in a school preventing them from attending classes. His lawyer said that these accusations are implausible since his client could not afford such activities in the presence of the school officials in question.

N Melo
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