Cameroon Military Tribunal adjourns for the 3rd time the trial of Anglophones (West Cameroonians) arbitrarily arrested for expressing their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association.
WCA condems the shambolic display at the Military Tribunal on Thursday 23rd March 2017, of Dr Nkongho Felix Agbor Balla and Dr Neba Fontem – Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) Leaders as well as scores of others arrested in the North West and South West Regions, the two English-speaking regions in the country.
It is now more than nine weeks since Dr Agbor Balla, Dr Neba Fontem, Mr Mancho Bibixy and many others were abducted from West Cameroon by the regime of La Republique du Cameroun (LRC) and charged with serious capital offences, including terrorism, which carry the death penalty in LRC.
WCA condemns in the strongest possible terms, this seemingly limitless and wanton lawlessness by the regime of LRC. This is the third adjournment of the trial in which the prosecution for LRC has failed to produce any credible evidence or witnesses to support its alleged capital offences charges.
WCA would like to remind the regime of LRC that their delaying tactics of many weeks in bringing credible evidence against the accused persons is tantamount to a serious breach of International Human Rights Conventions to which LRC is a signatory, namely:
1) Arbitrary arrests and detention.
2) Denial of fair public trial.
These gross human rights abuses will have serious consequences for those officers or officials of the state who are failing in their duties or directly perpetuating these abuses.
WCA has noted that LRC was not even able to keep to its own laws and failed to provide the list of prosecution witnesses to the defence team, 5 days prior to the hearing as the statute of the law requires. Instead, the prosecution presented a further list of twenty five accused West Cameroonians who have been recently arbitrarily arrested, and sought to group all these Anglophones accused into a single case. This act by the regime of LRC is deplorable and embarrassing, and provides evidence of an attempt to breach all international norms and laws, and to deny a fair public trial to each of the accused.
If there was any doubt that the entire people of West Cameroon were on trial, such doubts would have been laid to rest yesterday at the military trial by this blatant act of the regime to lump all West Cameroonians together indiscriminately irrespective of their ‘purported offences’. Had LRC been a country where the rule of law is respected, the presiding Judge, Colonel Mrs Abega would have been duty bound to throw out the case and release all the defendants as the case is not admissible in court.
Instead, as this military judge is married to the director of LRC internal security, it is abundantly clear that she is acting under executive orders where the verdict of the case appears to have already been politically pre-determined. WCA deplores Mrs Abega for her gross incompetence and for failing to act with impartiality in order to afford a fair public trial to the defendants. The LRC regime officials who are assigned to prosecute this inadmissible case should be reminded that they bear full personal responsibilities for the human rights violations and safety of all arrested West Cameroonians who continue to be kept in arbitrary detention.
These blatant and lawless acts of abuse by the regime of LRC dominated by individuals from the Ewondo Beti/Bulu tribes, are gravely undermining the security of the state and pose a very real risk of serious instability and disorder, and even a breakup of the state – an outcome that the government has repeatedly claimed they do not wish to see happen in their several public utterances that Cameroon is ‘one and indivisible’.
WCA now has strong reason to believe that the individuals named below, have a direct personal responsibility on the well documented human rights abuses that have been meted out to the peoples of West Cameroon since October 2016 when the students, lawyers and teachers strikes began. These gross human rights abuses have also been corroborated by the US Department of State Reports on Human Rights Practices in Cameroon, 2016.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of the Cameroonian State officials who are believed to be personally responsible for these documented human rights abuses in West Cameroon:
Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals
Mr. René Emmanuel Sadi, Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization
Mr. Martin Belinga Eboutou, Director of the Civil Cabinet at the Presidency
Mr. Martin Mbarga Nguele, Delegate General for National Security
Mr. Jean Baptiste Bokam, Secretary of State for Defence in charge of the Gendarmerie
Mr. Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education.
WCA hopes that the above individuals will take the necessary steps to exonerate themselves from these very serious accusations and act with the competence and international obligations expected of such high offices of state.
WCA would like to encourage H.E President Paul Biya to intervene to resolve the Anglophone crisis by convening an internationally witnessed constitutional conference to restore autonomous governance for the people of West Cameroon. This is a basic human right that they have under international law, the right to self-determination as granted to Southern Cameroon (now West Cameroon) by the United Nations; this should never ever have been tampered with from the 1961 constitution.
The West Cameroon Association,