Student leaders in Cameroon threatened with Life Sentences for Organizing a pro-democracy Protest

 Eight human rights defenders and leaders of the Cameroon Association for the Defense of Students’ Rights in Cameroon (Association pour la Défense des Droits des Etudiants au Cameroun - ADDEC) continue to languish in jail following their arrest in May 2019. A military court later charged them with with rebellion, complicity in subversion, failure to report, using a false title, and dissemination of false news.

Below is the Front Line Defenders statement on the case from June 2019:

On June 27, 2019, the first hearing for human rights defenders Jules Raymond Anama, Christian Ouemba Kuete, Juliette Ndim Bih, Yannick Mbakop, Samuel Talla Giles, Stanislas Tokam, Herman Zebaze Takoubo and Aimé Kameni Wetchadji took place at the Yaoundé Military Tribunal. They were charged with rebellion, complicity in subversion, failure to report, using a false title, and propagation of false news in relation to a protest tried to organized to demand that President Paul Biya––the longest running dictator on earth–– step down.

Jules Raymond Anama, Christian Ouemba Kuete, and Juliette Ndim Bih are members of Citizen for the Cameroonian Memory (Citoyens Pour la Mémoire du Cameroun - CPMC) a youth organisation that promotes citizen participation, government accountability, and transparency. CPMC has worked to monitor and highlight human rights violations in the so-called Anglophone region. Yannick Mbakop, Samuel Talla Giles, Stanislas Tokam, Herman Zebaze Takoubo, and Aimé Kameni Wetchadji are members of the Association for the Defense of Students’ Rights in Cameroon (Association pour la Défense des Droits des Etudiants au Cameroun - ADDEC), a student association and union advocating for reforms in the Cameroonian academic system, academic freedom, and participation of students in decision making.

On May 18, 2019, the human rights defenders were arrested by the National Judicial Police while they were taking a selfie in front of the Central Post Office in Yaoundé. They were subsequently detained at the Intelligence Services’ Office in Nlongkak-Yaoundé and transferred to the Elig Essono National Judicial Police station on the same day. They were arrested and detained in relation to a three-day protest they were planning, to demand that President Paul Biya step down. Following their arrest and detention the protest did not take place.

On June 5, 2019 they were allowed their first visit at Elig Essono National Judicial Police station from their family after sixteen days of incommunicado detention. They were denied a visit with a lawyer for the first ten days of their detention. The human rights defenders were detained for a total of 37 days before they were charged and brought before a judge. This delay was well over the limit in Cameroon, which allows for a period of 24 hours, renewable only three times by the prosecutor or, for charges under the antiterrorism law, 15 days, renewable only one time by the prosecutor. At no point during their detention did the government produce an official document authorize the extension of their detention.

Front Line Defenders is concerned by the charges brought against Jules Raymond Anama, Christian Ouemba Kuete, Juliette Ndim Bih, Yannick Mbakop, Samuel Talla Giles, Stanislas Tokam, Herman Zebaze Takoubo and Aimé Kameni Wetchadji and the irregularities in the legal process as it believes that these acts are solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful activities in defense of human rights.

Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Cameroon to:
1. Immediately drop all charges and release Jules Raymond Anama, Christian Ouemba Kuete, Juliette Ndim Bih, Yannick Mbakop, Samuel Talla Giles, Stanislas Tokam, Herman Zebaze Takoubo and Aimé Kameni Wetchadji as it is believed that their detention is solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful work in defense of human rights;

2. Allow the human rights defenders consistent and unfettered access to their families and lawyers while in detention;

3. Investigate the irregularities in their pre-trial detention, including the illegal wait time and denial of visits with families and lawyers;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Cameroon are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions, including judicial harassment.
(https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/)