August 18, 2011

Cameroon: Men detained for being gay


Yaoundé, Cameroon: Amnesty International is calling on authorities in Cameroon to release 2 men arrested on July 25th, 2011 because the arresting officers suspected that 19 year old Jonah, and 20 year old Francky, were gay.

They were charged under Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code, which criminalizes same-sex sexual acts. They are currently imprisoned at Yaoundé's Kondengui central prison.

Erwin Van Der Borght, Amnesty International's Africa Programme Director said”,Given the high level of officially sanctioned homophobia in Cameroon, those arrested under this law are at risk of attack or other forms of ill-treatment by fellow prisoners, or by prison authorities, because of their alleged sexual orientation. Cameroon should repeal this draconian law. By arresting people purely because of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified.”

The two defendants could face up to 5 years in prison if convicted. They were arrested sitting in a car outside a club in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon.

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was sentenced to 36 months in prison after he sent a tex message to a male friend. The Kondengui central prison where he is serving his sentence is known for overcrowding, poor sanitation and food shortages.  

Mbede is said to be in poor physical and mental health. Amnesty International considers Mbede to be a prisoner of conscience, as he was convicted solely because of his real or perceived sexual orientation. It has called on the authorities to ensure he is not subjected to any form of ill-treatment, harassment or violence.

Arrests, detentions and trials of gay men, as well as people who are suspected of being gay, occur on a regular basis under Section 347a of the Cameroonian Penal Code.


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