Amnesty International wants Cameroon to grant Gay Rights.

February 2, 2013 § 6 Comments

Amnesty International, AI, has stigmatized Cameroon as a country with a bloody record of human right abuses. This is the byword of the 2012 report the organisation published in January 24.

“People in Cameroon are being subjected to a raft of abuses including unlawful killing and torture as the authorities seek to use the criminal justice system to clamp down on political opponents, human right defenders and journalists and as a weapon to attack lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people,” partly reads the report of the global human rights organisation.

The report documents a series of cases where fear, intimidation and imprisonment have been used to clamp down on political opposition to President Biya. “For example, the case of Titus Edzoa, the former Health Minister who quit government to stand as a Presidential candidate on April 20, 1997. He was later arrested on charges of corruption and he is currently serving a 20-year jail sentence after completing a 15-year prison term,” says the report.

It quotes a melancholy-stricken Edzoa telling AI officials during a visit to his cell in Yaounde that, “I am living in virtual isolation and frightened people will forget me.” AI equally indicts the Cameroon for harassing and threatening human rights defenders and members of their families for doing work and failing to offer them protection.

“Over the years, dozens of prisoners attempting to escape have been shot, injured or killed by guards. Numerous prisoners are held in shackles and many have been detained for more than 20 months without trial,” the report points out. Going by the AI report, its officials visited Kondengui Prison in Yaounde and the Douala New Bell Prison and were appalled by the conditions and ill-treatment. At the time of their latest visit in December 2012, there were more than 7,000 prisoners in two prisons with a capacity of 1500.

“It’s close to a miracle,” the organisation observes, “that people actually survive their stay in prison. I was frightened when I visited.  How worse can it be for the thousands of detainees who are abused and forgotten or ignored by the authorities?” one of the officials quipped.

“Inmates in Kondengui Prison,” says the report, “only eat one meal a day and malnutrition is rife.” Prison authorities informed AI that most of the detainees in one wing are mentally ill and researchers saw male inmates who were completely naked amidst a crowd of fellow prisoners.
Rights Of Homosexuals

The report also observes that “engaging in same sex relations is a criminal offence in Cameroon.”

It, however, gainsaid that the authorities for routine arrest, detention and torture of individual inmates because of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Such violations, it claims, have increased since the mid-2000s. It holds that same sex people in custody are also forced to undergo anal examination in mistaken belief by the authorities that the examinations can prove whether or not people are engaging in same-sex relations.

It says there is no justification, whatsoever, for this illegal, degrading treatment. To them, it represents a severe breach of medical ethics and has to end immediately. The report reveals that defence lawyers for same sex people have recently received death threats against themselves and their children for defending homosexuals.

“Amnesty International submitted a comprehensive memorandum on human right abuses to the Cameroonian Government in September 2012, along with recommendations. When delegates visited the country in December 2012, they concluded that human rights violation has continued unabated since their previous visit in August 2010,” the report narrates.

“It is time to put an end to such blatant violation of human rights. The Government needs to make it clear to security forces that human right violations will not be tolerated; that perpetrators will be brought to justice and reparation paid to victims,” says Godfrey Byaruhanga, AI Central Africa researcher, who visited Cameroon recently.

He further says in the report that, “the Government is adamant that it enforces the rule of law but has little to show for it on the ground. It has to prove it means what it claims.” In reaction, a recent edition of the Government-run bilingual daily, Cameroon Tribune, dismissed the report as false. The paper equally published write-ups that seek to “white-wash” Cameroon’s human rights image.


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