Plea at U.N. to stop violence; Cameroon claims it will change

Colleagues of murdered Cameroonian activist Eric Ohena Lembembe have urged their government to stop homophobic attacks and legalized repression of LGBT people in Cameroon, and the government has responded with lip service aimed at creating the impression that Cameroon will:

  • Investigate police violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation.
  • Investigate threats and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, and bring to justice the perpetrators.
  • Ensure the active and immediate protection of all human rights.

A leader of Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS), a former colleague of Lembembe, urged the government to live up to its words.

Here is the statement that he made about the discovery of Lembembe’s body and the hostile environment that LGBT people still face daily in Cameroon.  For his security — to lessen the risk that he is running — in this article he’s identified as François, which is not his real name.   François made the following presentation on Sept. 19 in Geneva, Switzerland, during the U.N. Human Rights Council’s consideration of Cameroon’s human rights record (the Universal Periodic Review, or UPR):

Eric Lembembe (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Eric Lembembe (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

On July 15 at 5:45 in Yaounde, I discovered the dead body of my colleague, our colleague with the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS, CAMFAIDS. He was a friend and activist for health, a human rights defender for LGBTI persons, a journalist and a writer. His name was Eric Ohena Lembembe. He was locked in his room after having been tortured and killed.

This crime took place after a series of attacks, threats, and arrests made against members of the LGBTI community and their defenders. Eric Ohena Lembembe denounced in his articles and publications these attacks and the instigators of them. He was harassed verbally on the telephone, by email and by SMS. He was even arrested and placed in detention. But he didn’t take these threats into account, and it cost him his life.

Since this crime, the insecurity situation for the LGBTI community has continued to get worse. I would like to thank the Government of Cameroon for its participation in the UPR, but at the same time we would like to draw attention to the silence with respect to the situation of abuse of LGBTI persons and their defenders.

We urge the government to implement the recommendations it accepted to investigate violence and threats against HRDs (human rights defenders) and of the rights of LGBTI persons, but also the recommendations they rejected to defend LGBTI persons.

We call for an investigation into the killing of Mr. Ohena.

We call for the perpetrators to be sought out, prosecuted, and convicted.

We would like the government to investigate prosecute and convict those responsible for the series of threats and attacks against human rights defenders who work for human rights.

We call for the government to condemn all manifestations which incite homophobia and crimes.”

Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Cameroonian ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Cameroonian ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

His remarks are also available on video.

The government of Cameroon accepted some recommendations made to it about the treatment of LGBT people, but rejected 14 of them. It accepted these recommendations, which François urged the government actually to implement:

  • Investigate police violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation.
  • Further investigate the threats and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, and bring to justice the perpetrators.
  • Ensure the active and immediate protection of all human rights.
  • Make every effort to fully investigate all threats and attacks against human rights defenders and journalists, and to bring perpetrators to justice.
  • Ensure adequate protection of human rights under threat, including the right to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association.

Cameroon rejected the following recommendations, among others:

  • Ensure adequate protection of human rights and support LGBTI people.
  • Repealing the law against homosexual activity.

Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Cameroon’s ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said the decriminalization homosexuality would “not meet the acceptance of Cameroon society as a whole.”

Pink News reported:

Cameroon rejected nearly all proposals that involved tackling homophobic discrimination, abuse and violence in the country.

The country has one of the highest prosecution rates for consensual same-sex sexual relations in the world.

Cameroon rejected the Council’s call to end its policy of arbitrary arrests for same-sex conduct, as well as Uruguay’s proposal to tackle harassment and violence based on sexual orientation, and Germany’s proposal to protect LGBT people from violence.

Human Rights Watch said that Cameroon’s reaction to the proposals was “shameful,” adding that the country had “distanced itself from a growing consensus, voiced by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Human Rights Council, that discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are never acceptable.

Cameroon did however accept Belgium’s recommendation to investigate police violence against people on the basis of their sexual orientation. A report by Human Rights Watch in March had found that the country’s security forces routinely torture people to make them confess to having same-sex relations.

About Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart, a 40-year journalism veteran, is publisher and an editor of the "Erasing 76 Crimes" blog. More profile information on Google+.
This entry was posted in Africa (Sub Saharan), Anti-LGBT laws and legislation, Harassment / murders, International pressure for LGBT rights and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Plea at U.N. to stop violence; Cameroon claims it will change

  1. Pingback: Cameroon tries to blame LGBT activist for his own murder | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: ‘A new low by Cameroon’s government’ | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Letter to Pope: Halt church support of anti-gay violence | 76 CRIMES

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