Cameroon: Death threats against human rights lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho

06/11/2021
Urgent Appeal

CMR 001 / 1121 / OBS 113
Death threats
Cameroon
November 5, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cameroon.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the death threats against Felix Agbor Nkongho, aka Agbor-Balla, a human rights lawyer, Vice-President of the African Bar Association (AFBA) for Central Africa and founder of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA). Mr. Agbor Nkongho is a prominent defender of the rights of the Anglophone minority in Cameroon who advocates for a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone crisis [1] .

Between October 29, 2021 and November 1, 2021, Felix Agbor Nkongho attended a Leadership Retreat in Toronto, Canada, organised by the NGO Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations. The aim of the retreat was to discuss collaborative actions towards a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon, namely by improving dialogue, protecting human rights and granting humanitarian aid, and promoting negotiation with the support of international mediation. Throughout the week, Felix Agbor Nkongho received multiple death threats on social media and by a voice message on Whatsapp calling “any separatist or ‘Ambazonian’ to kill him” should he be seen in the cities of Buea or Kumba.

The Observatory strongly condemns the above-mentioned death threats against Felix Agbor Nkongho and recalls that this is not the first time he faces attacks and acts of harassment. On May 6, 2020, he was dismissed from his job as a lecturer in the Faculty of Law and Political Science of the State-owned University of Buea after he asked his students to critically engage with and discuss the Anglophone crisis in an exam. Moreover, on January 10, 2017, following his participation in a peaceful protest, Felix Agbor Nkongho was arbitrarily arrested and detained on charges of “terrorism”, “treason”, “civil unrest” and “jeopardising the peace and unity of the Republic of Cameroon” by the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé under the 2014 Anti-Terrorism Law, which contravenes the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) principles on the right to a fair trial and allows for Cameroonian citizens to be charged in military courts. Mr. Agbor Nkongho was finally released on August 31, 2017 through Presidential Decree and all charges against him were then dropped.

The Observatory further condemns the increase in recent years of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders in Cameroon, particularly since the beginning of the socio-political crisis in the Anglophone regions at the end of 2016, and recalls that several defenders of the rights of the Anglophone minority have been subjected to attacks, harassment and arbitrary detention under the Anti-Terrorism Law, or enforced disappearance, including Messrs. Mancho Bibixy Tse, Franklin Mowha and Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe, who died in military custody in August 2019.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cameroon to urge them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Felix Agbor Nkongho, and all human rights defenders in Cameroon;

ii. Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the above-mentioned death threats against Felix Agbor Nkongho, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and punish them as provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Felix Agbor Nkongho as well as against all human rights defenders in Cameroon, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;

Addresses:

· H.E. Mr. Joseph Dion Nguté, Prime Minister and Chief Head of Government, Primature du Cameroun, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon. Email:spm@spm.gov.cm
· Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon, Email: contact@spm.gov.cm
· National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, E-mail: cndhl@iccnet.cm
· H.E. Mr. Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroon to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Avenue de France 23, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Email: mission.cameroun@bluewin.ch
· H.E. Mr. Daniel Evina Abe’e, Ambassador of Cameroon to Belgium & the European Union, Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Brussels, 131 av. Brugmann, 1190 (Forest), Belgium, Email: ambassade.cameroun@skynet.be; embassy@cameroon.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cameroon in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, November 5, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
· Tel FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25

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