Cameroon: Mr. Mancho Bibixy Tse sentenced to 15 years in prison

18/06/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
CMR 001 / 0418 / OBS 042.1

Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Sentence
Cameroon
June 18, 2018

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment, sentence and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Mancho Bibixy Tse (known as BBC), journalist newscaster of Abakwa, a local radio programme aired on Bamenda FM through which he has reported on the rights of the Anglophone minority in Cameroon with a focus on their social and economic marginalisation. He has also been working in close collaboration with the civil society consortium to document human rights violations in North-West Cameroon and to protect vulnerable people in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

According to the information received, on May 25, 2018, the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé sentenced Mr. Mancho Bibixy to 15 years in prison and a fine of 268 million francs CFA (approximatively 408 564 Euros) - 64 million as damages requested by the civil party and 204 million as damages requested by the State, on charges of “acts of terrorism”, “hostility against the homeland”, “secession”, “revolution”, “propagation of false information”, “contempt of public bodies and public servants”, “resistance”, “depredation by band”, “failure to hold his national ID card” and “insurrection” under the Law on the Suppression of Acts of Terrorism No. 28 of 2014 and Cameroonian Criminal Code.

The sentence came after eighteen months of arbitrary detention and an unfair trial during which the hearings were postponed under different pretexts for more than fourteen times.

Mr. Mancho Bibixy is currently detained at the Kondengui central prison, a maximum-security prison in Yaoundé, where he does not have regular access to his family. Since the beginning of his detention on January 19, 2017, his health has deteriorated and has been further weakened by a one-week hunger strike he started on June 7, 2017 to protest against his poor detention conditions. He is currently sharing an overcrowded cell with fifteen other inmates with poor access to hygiene facilities and is suffering from back pain.

The Observatory strongly condemns Mr. Mancho Bibixy’s sentence as it comes in retaliation to his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities, in particular in the context of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, in which he has led several peaceful protests demanding for the rights of the Anglophone population to be respected [1]. Furthermore, the Observatory is particularly concerned by the fact that Mr. Mancho Bibixy has been tried before a military tribunal, which contravenes his right to a fair trial as protected under international law.

Consequently, the Observatory urges Cameroonian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him as well as to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him.

Background information:

On January 19, 2017, Mr. Mancho Bibixy was arrested while at a friend’s house. Armed soldiers climbed up the house’s fence while shooting in the air and forcibly opened two doors. He was arrested and hooded without having a chance to dress up, take his shoes or his ID card. He was further beaten and taken to a vehicle.

His trial opened on February 1, 2017, and since then hearings were postponed more than fourteen times, for different reasons including a request from the Prosecutor, who required more time to gather evidence, bank holidays and the absence of the judges.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cameroon asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Mancho Bibixy, as well as of all human rights defenders in Cameroon;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Mancho Bibixy, as well as all human rights defenders detained in Cameroon;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Mancho Bibixy, as well as of all human rights defenders in Cameroon;

iv. Until all charges are dropped, ensure that all judicial proceedings against Mr. Mancho Bibixy are carried out in full compliance with his right to a fair trial, as protected under international law;

v. Conform in any circumstances with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December 9, 1998 by the United Nations General Assembly, in particular its Articles 1 and 12.2.;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights instruments ratified by Cameroon.

Addresses:

His Excellency Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic, Presidency of the Republic, Palais de l’Unité, 1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon, Fax +237 22 22 08 70
H.E. Mr. Philémon Yang, Prime Minister and Chief Head of Government, Primature du Cameroun, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon. Fax: +237 22 23 57 65. Email: spm@spm.gov.cm
Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon, Fax: + 237 22 23 00 05
Mr. René Emmanuel Sadi, Minister of Territorial Administration, Fax: + 237 22 22 37 35
Dr. Chemuta Divine Banda, Chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, Fax: +237 22 22 60 82, E-mail: cndhl@iccnet.cm / cdbanda26@yahoo.fr
Ms. Enonchong Annet, Protection Officer of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, Email: annet_mbeng@yahoo.com
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. Fax: + 41 22 736 21 65, 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, Fax: + 32 2 344 57 35; Email: ambassade.cameroun@skynet.be; embassy@cameroon.be

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

***
Geneva-Paris, June 18, 2018

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 the FIDH. The objective of this programme is to intervene 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 and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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