Cameroon: Over 500 detained in overcrowded cells

Posted by Grand News | 1 January 1970 | 811 times

Paul Biya

ecurity crackdown on the Anglophone region of Cameroon has left no fewer than 500 people detained in overcrowded detention facilities following mass arbitrary arrests in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. Also, many wounded protestors have fled hospitals to avoid arrest, according to a statement released by Amnesty International.

The group said those detained were arrested following protests in dozens of towns in North-West and South-West Cameroon on October 1, in which more than 20 people were shot dead by security forces. “This mass arrest of protestors, most of whom were acting peacefully, is not only a violation of human rights, but is also likely to be counter-productive,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher.

“The Cameroonian authorities should release anyone detained only for exercising their right to peaceful protest,” he said. The arrests took place in towns across the regions, the group said. It explained:  “In Bamenda, the capital of the North-West region, at least 200 people were arrested and the majority transferred to the prison in Bafoussam.

“In Buea, the capital of the South-West region, at least 300 people have been arrested since the October 1, protests, including a series of mass arbitrary arrests between October 6 and 8. On Sunday October 8, for example, police arrested up to 100 people walking to church in the Mile 16 area of Buea, and entered the building to arrest church staff. Some have now been released.”

Amnesty International said security forces including the army – whose deployment for law-enforcement purpose should only be an exceptional measure in an emergency situation – had also used unnecessary or excessive force when conducting arrests, and had destroyed property and looted belongings. In one incident on October 3 in Buea, a police officer threw a teargas canister into a vehicle containing a dozen protestors, who had to smash the window to let in air. In all the cases documented by Amnesty International, arrests were carried out without warrants,” the group stated.

It further said eyewitnesses described how prisons had become overcrowded following the wave of arrests. It said in Buea the prison population had increased from about 1,000 before September 22 to around 1,500 . It stated that in one facility run by a mobile police unit, the Groupement Mobile d’Intervention (GMI), in Buea, detainees were described as being “packed like sardines.”

The group said some of those arrested had been charged with secession, and others with charges including not possessing identity papers, destruction of public property or failure to respect order of the governor. “Some have already been brought before the courts. Others were released following the payment of bribes, with families in Buea reporting to have paid members of the police approximately 60 USD for each family member detained,” Amnesty International said.

Source: Grand News

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