Human Lives Human Rights: More than a 100 Cameroonian activists are languishing in jail from the past five years for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, where some have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
Rights groups say that over the past five years, the human rights situation has grown increasingly bleak as people from Anglophone regions, including journalists, human rights defenders, activists and supporters of political opposition, have been arrested and jailed for expressing their opinions or peacefully protesting.
Most of the jailed individuals were tried before military courts — in violation of international human rights law — and sentenced under the country’s repressive 2014 anti-terror law.
Rights groups call on the Cameroonian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those incarcerated for practicing their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.
They should also rescind the overly broad anti-terror law, which has been used to criminalize protesters for years.
Thousands of people, including lawyers, teachers and human rights defenders, took part in largely peaceful demonstrations in late 2016 that called for greater rights in the two Anglophone regions.
More than 1,000 Anglophone people arrested between 2016 and 2021 in relation to the Anglophone crisis are behind bars in at least 10 prisons across the country, including 650 in Buea, 280 in Yaoundé, 181 in Douala and 101 in Bafoussam. Dozens have been arbitrarily detained.
Many of them were held incommunicado and suffered torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and lashes, deprivation of food and water for days, mock drownings and forced extraction of fingernails.
Attacks on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, coupled with the widespread use of torture and trials of civilians by military courts, reveal the extent to which the Cameroonian authorities are normalizing the repression of critical voices. Their relentless repression must end.
We call on the Cameroonian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those incarcerated for practicing their rights to free speech and peaceful protest.