Cameroon : Arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and ill treatments inflicted on Mr. Franklin Mowha

Press release
en fr

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, joint programme of the International Federation of Human Rights leagues (FIDH) and of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), ask you to intervene urgently on the following situation in Cameroon.

22 July 2014

Background :

The Observatory was informed by the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (REDHAC) of the arbitrary detention, judicial harassment and ill-treatments inflicted on Mr. Fraklin Mowha, president of Frontline Fighters for Citizens Interests (FFCI), a human rights organisation operating in the Western region of Cameroon. [1]

According to the information received, Mr. Franklin Mowha is being detained and prosecuted since December 2013 for « destruction of public goods » and « insulting a public officer during the performance of his duties » based on articles 187 and 154 of the Penal Code, and is facing sentences of up to 2 years of imprisonment and 20 000 to 20 million FCFA. In view of these articles’ dispositions, it is feared that a heavy fine impossible to pay for Mr. Franklin will be inflicted on him with the aim of maintaining him in detention.

On 4 December 2013, Mr. Franklin Mowha was arrested while he was at the Ter Brigade of the Bangangté Gendarmeerie, head town of the Ndé department, in order to visit Mr. Nouyep Serge, member of the Cameroun Peasants Movement (M-PAC), detained in custody because of an inter-community dispute.

Furthermore, in a letter adressed on 1 February 2010 to the sub-prefect of the Bangangté neighbourhood, and in another one dating from 26 December 2013 to the President of Cameroon, Mr. Franklin Mowha denounced acts of torture and other abuses against indigenous Bororos people, on instructions from the Bangangté superior official. [2]

On the day of his arrest, Mr. Franklin Mowha was publicly beaten in the Brigade Ter yard by gendarmes of that group, who would have acted following orders of the Ter de la Gendarmerie brigade administrative authorities and the Superior official of Bangangté. Mr. Mowha was sustained injuries in the nose and ribs, and was still under perfusion during a visit of the REDHAC on 23 June 2014.
Mr. Franklin Mowha was initially brought in front of Bangangté’s Prosecutor of the Republic on 6 December 2013 at 7:30 am, who did not uphold any charges against him. The Brigade Ter gendarmes then took him back to his cell before bringing him the sale day in front of the Prosecutor of the Bafoussam (Western Cameroon) military Court, despite the fact that this affair should come under the remit of ordinary criminal courts, in total contradiction with the general principles of law that a military juridiction can only judge soldiers.

The Observatory firmly denounces this dysfunction of the working of justice, and recalls that article 14 of the International treaty and convention on civil political rights specificies that « Everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal » . The Observatory also recalls that the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations had already noted, in its general observation n°32 on the interpretation of article 14 of the International treaty and convention, that « the trial of civilians by military or special courts can raise serious problems as far as the equitable, impartial and independent administration of justice is concerned ».

Following his appearance before the Military court prosecutor on 6 December 2013, Mr. Mowha was transfered to the central prison of Bafoussam, where he is being maintained in preventive detention since more than seven months ago. Mr. Franklin Mowha recently received an order for reference before the military court but, until today, no audience has yet been set for hearing.

The Observatory is deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention and ill-treatments inflicted on Mr. Mowha Franklin, and by the acts of judicial harassment against him on the basis of false accusations with the goal of impeding his activities as a human rights defender. The Observatory is particularly concerned by the unfair use of military justice against a civilian, moreover against a human rights defender, so as to deny his most fundamental rights. The Observatory urges the cameroonese authorities to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Required actions :

The Observatory urges you to write to the cameroonese authorities asking them to :

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Franklin Mowha and of all human rights defenders in Cameroonese
ii. Release Mr Franklin Mowha immediately and unconditionally since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims to impede his human rights defender activities
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Mr. Franklin Mowha and all human rights defenders in Cameroon
iv. Comply with article 14 of the International treaty and convention on civil political rights, which provides that « everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent court », and with the general observation n°32 of the Human Rights Committee, that underlines also that « the trial of civilians by military of special courts can raise serious problems concerning the « fairness », impartiality and independence of the working of justice » (para. 22)
v. Comply with the dispositions of the Declaration on Human Rights defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 9 december 1998, and more specifically :
its article specifying that « everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, (a) to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human and fundamental freedoms, including having access to informatio nas to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems
(b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart of disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms ;
( c ) to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters »
and its article 12.2 which provides that « The state takes all necessary measures to ensure that the competent authorities protect everyone, individually and in association with others, from all acts of violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure discrimination, pression or other arbitrary actions in the framework of the legitimate exercise of rights referred to in the present Declaration ».

vi. More generally, comply with the dispositions of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and regional and international human rights instruments ratified by Cameroon.

Adresses :

· Mr. Paul Biya, President , Présidence de la République, Palais de l’Unité, 1000 Yaoundé, Cameroun, Fax +237 222 08 70

· Mr. Philémon Yang, Prime ministre et Head of the gouvernement, Primature du Cameroun, Fax : +237 22 23 57 35 et courriel :

· Mr. Laurent Esso, Justice Minister, Garde des Sceaux, Ministère de la Justice, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroun, Fax : + 237 223 00 05

· Mr. Alain Edgard Mebe Ngo’o, Minister delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defense B.P1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroun, Fax +237 223 59 71

· Mr. SADI René Emmanuel, Minister of the territorial Administration and Decentralisation, Fax : + 237 222 37 35

· President of the National Commission for Human rights and Liberties (CNDHL), Tel : +237 222 61 17, Fax : +237 222 60 82, E-mail :

· Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroun to the United Nations Office in Geneva, rue du Nant 6, 1207 Genève, Suisse, Fax : + 41 22 736 21 65, Email :

· Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Brussels, 131 av. Brugmann, 1190 Forest, Belgium, Fax : + 32 2 344 57 35 ; Email :

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

Read more