The Wouri High court on January 25, 2023, denied granting the release of 23 persons arrested in September 2020. The detainees are among many others arrested during a protest by the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) party.
Among them, is 37-year-old single mother and hairdresser, Dorgelesse Nguessan who got slammed a five-year jail term in 2021. This was by a military court which declared her guilty of insurrection and public demonstrations, Amnesty International revealed.
Lawyers of the 23 detained in December 2022 filed a ‘habeas corpus’ at the Wouri High Court, asking that their clients be released, but the request was thrown out on January 25.
Rights group, Amnesty International has described the court’s decision as deeply disappointing.
To Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for West and Central Africa said the outcome is nothing short of violation of international law. Amnesty International, he stated, is “… deeply disappointed that the authorities have failed to recognize the arbitrary nature of the ongoing detention of these protestors. Arresting and imprisoning people solely for expressing their rights to freedom of expression and assembly is an arbitrary act and fails to meet Cameroon’s obligations under international human rights law.”
To her, the detained remain innocent. “All others detained in the country for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly must also be freed,” he added.
Fingers remain crossed ahead of March 16, 2023, slated for the appeal hearing filed by Dorgelesse Nguessan’s lawyers.
At the September 2020 protests, MRC supporters among others, were asking for better living conditions as well as electoral reforms, following the 2018 Presidential election which their candidate, Maurice Kamto lost. Kamto who had been arrested and detained months before, was placed under house arrest during the protest, for close to two months.
The waves of the September 2020 protests continue to resonate in Cameroon’s political sphere to date. Marking the anniversary of the crackdown in 2021, Human Rights Watch said it was imperative that government ensured accountability and immediately release those arrested.
Poise News Desk