Government of Cameroon dragged to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Court
The Government of Cameroon has been dragged to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Court in Banjul, The Gambia over the impending trial of 47 asylum seekers and naturalised Nigerians.
The petition against the Government of Cameroon submitted on Friday, January 4, 2018, was presented by Nigeria’s foremost human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN.
The petition comes at a time when the Government of Cameroon has announced the restriction of visitors from visiting Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and Co in the Yaoundé Kondengui Prison, and it is rumoured that moves are ongoing by the Government to relocate the detainees back to SED.
Femi Falana wants the Commission’s urgent intervention to end the ongoing human rights violations of the applicants who were forcibly returned to Cameroon by the Nigerian authorities.
The rights lawyer is also asking the Chairperson and the Bureau to urgently hold an extra-ordinary session of the African Commission to address the illegal and unfair return of 47 refugees and asylum seekers, and the continuing violations of the rights of the returnees by the Government of Cameroon.
“We also urge the Chairperson of the Commission to speak out strongly and condemn the unfair treatment of the returnees by the Government of Cameroon, and request the Government to immediately release them from unlawful detention”, Falana reiterated.
“Cameroon has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. At the request of the Government of Cameroon the Nigerian authorities illegally and unfairly returned 47 refugees and asylum seekers to Cameroon on Friday, January 26, 2018. The returnees are mostly leaders of the people of Southern Cameroons and who have been living in Nigeria with their families for years.”
“Some of them have been granted political asylum while others were asylum seekers in Nigeria. On Saturday, 5th January 2018, the Applicants assembled to meet in Abuja to discuss the problems being encountered by several Cameroonian asylum seekers in Nigeria but before the commencement of the meeting security personnel from Nigeria arrested the Applicants and took them to an underground detention centre in a military barracks in Abuja.”
“While the Applicants were detained in Nigeria, they were denied access to their family members, friends, lawyers and doctors. However, the representative of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees was allowed to visit the Applicants.”
“As soon as the Office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees in Nigeria confirmed the information it dispatched a letter to the Government of Nigeria pointing out that Nigeria has a legal obligation under international law not to deport the detained Cameroonians.”
“But in a demonstration of reckless impunity, the Government of Cameroon pressured the Nigerian authorities to hand over the refugees. They were handed over to the Cameroonian security forces who forcefully took them away from Nigeria on Friday, January 26, 2018.”
“Nigeria has no extradition treaty with Cameroon. Hence, the deportation was carried out outside the ambit of the extradition laws of Nigeria and Cameroon and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
“In removing the Applicants from Nigeria, the Government of Cameroon breached the human rights of the Applicants to enter Nigeria, reside, seek and obtain asylum guaranteed by Article 12 (3) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Government of Cameroon also breached article 12 (4) of the African Charter, which provides that every individual shall have the right, when persecuted to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with the laws of those countries and international conventions.”
“In the light of the forgoing, the Applicants hereby urge the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to: Urgently hold an extra-ordinary session of the African Commission to address the illegal and unfair return of 47 refugees and asylum seekers, and the continuing violations of the rights of the returnees by the Government of Cameroon; Hold the Government of Cameroon to account for violating the rights of the 47 naturalised Nigerians, refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights to freedom from torture and other human rights.”
“The Commission should make an official visit to Cameroon with special rapporteurs having relevant mandates and put pressure on the authorities to immediately release the returnees from unlawful detention and end the politically motivated trial of naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers.”
“The Commission should hold that the continuing detention, mistreatment and unfair trial of the returned naturalised Nigerians, refugees and asylum seekers by the Government of Cameroon amount to cruel and degrading treatment and in conflict with the country’s human rights obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
“The Commission should seek the guarantee of Government of Cameroon about the safety of the returnees, and that they would afford the returnees fair trial while they remain in the country. Pursuant to Rules 84(2) and 118(3)(4) of the Rules of Procedure, the Commission should refer the matter to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”
“The Commission should ask the Government of Cameroon to immediately stop the mistrial of the 47 refugees and asylum seekers before a military tribunal and return them to Nigeria to rejoin their families. ”