Cameroonian prison personnel continue to torture suspected homosexuals even though the Government of Cameroon has agreed to comply with international recommendations such as:
- End torture in prison;
- Investigate police violence against people because of their sexual orientation;
- Ensure human rights for all.
In a press release today, the LGBT rights group Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS ) urged that the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Prisons:
- To enforce Cameroon’s commitment to end torture in prisons;
- To urge the commissioner of prisons to provide protection for prisoners;
- To investigate officials who torture detainees either physically or mentally.
In two visits to the central prison in Yaoundé on Oct. 16-17, 2013, Camfaids found 10 new cases of prisoners who had been arrested for homosexuality but were previously unknown to human rights groups in Cameroon. These prisoners are identified here by pseudonyms, not their real names. The following accounts were reported by them to the visitors from Camfaids:
Lan , 26, a chef who lives in the Santa Barbara neighborhood in Yaoundé, received repeated telephone calls from a man he did not know and finally agreed to meet him at the Prestige Hotel about a year ago. The man introduced himself as a police officer named Anaba and arrested him. Lan said he was then beaten at the judicial police station in Yaoundé for two days, in order to force him to reveal the names and phone numbers of friends with whom he had had homosexual relations so police could dismantle what they called a “gay network.” He was then transferred to the central police station, where he was again beaten every morning by police officials who urged him to confess and give them the contact information of his friends. He finally admitted that he is gay, but did not denounce his friends.
Lan was detained for nearly a month in a cell at the central police station. Finally, his case was presented in court, a lawyer was assigned to him and he was transferred to the central prison, where he was held in the prison hospital for three months to recover from his injuries . After he was discharged to the prison’s general population, he suffered further violence and injury at the hands of other inmates.
He has appeared in court about 10 times in connection with his arrest, but his case has not gone to trial. Anaba, the police officer, told the court that Lan tried to have sex with his son. When the judge called the son to court as a witness, the son said he had never before seen Lan. At a subsequent court session, Anaba told the judge that his son had left the country to pursue his education.
Visitors from Camfaids gave Lan some money so he could buy himself something to eat. He remains in need of psychological help and medication for stomach pain.
ISSA and THIO
Issa, an artist and dancer in the local bikutsi style, is a 29-year-old man originally from the Mvog Ada neighborhood. He was arrested early Oct. 6 in a bar after being drugged by his friend, Thio, 25, a student at the Regional Maritime Academy in Ghana, whom he met on the night of Oct. 5.
While he and Thio were at a bar drinking, Issa said that Thio apparently put a drug in Issa’s glass of whiskey, which caused him to lose consciousness. Other customers at the bar called the police when they noticed that the two men were touching each other sexually. They were arrested and taken to the police station at around 3 a.m.
After a day had passed, Issa and Thio were charged with the flagrant practice of homosexuality. After three days in custody at the judicial administrative center of Yaoundé, they were assigned a lawyer and transferred to the central prison. Their next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 14.
The Camfaids visitors were told that Issa and Thio were abused repeatedly by prison staff; they still have scars and other marks on their backs. After seeing the torture and harassment of Issa and Thio by prison staff, other inmates did the same without any interference from the guards.
Because Issa has to sleep on the floor, Camfaids gave him some money so he can buy a mattress and medicine for a stomach ache.
MYAN and NYMAN
Myan, 29, of Yaoundé was arrested in 2012 after a friend, Nyman, named him as a homosexual in hopes of putting an end to a public caning that people at the Mfoundi market were giving to Nyman.
Myan was promptly seized by police at his home without an arrest warrant and without being given any explanation of why it was happening. He was then detained for three days at police headquarters in Yaoundé.
Myan and Nyman were taken to the district court in Yaoundé, then transferred to the central prison, where for about a year they have been harassed and shunned by other inmates. They also must sleep on the floor.
Visitors from Camfaids gave Myan a package containing tapioca, sugar and antiseptic soap and 1,000 CFA francs (U.S. $2) for their needs within the prison.
After being sent back to prison repeatedly by the judge, Myan said his lawyer has assured him that at his next court appearance he will be released.
Ali, 22, was arrested on homosexuality charges, but the Camfaids visitors were interrupted by prison guard before they could discuss his case with him. He is pale, thin and suffering psychologically. He suffers from stomach aches and apparently has scabies. The visitors have just left him a package of tapioca, sugar and antiseptic soap and also a sum of 1,000 CFA francs (US $2) for financial support.
MATT and JULES
Matt, 27, who lives in the Cité Verte area, is a member of an association that works against HIV/AIDS and for the human rights of marginalized people in Yaoundé.
Matt had shared an apartment with his sister, which he turned into an inn after her departure. His regular customers included homosexuals. Neighbors who noticed them accused him of luring in young people and of rape.
Police came to the inn in the guise of potential customers and arrested Matt, Jules and two other friends. They were taken to the Lac police station and held there for two days. The two friends were then released. Matt and Jules were transferred to a court facility, to the central police station for two days, then back to court. Finally , they were taken to the central prison in Yaoundé in November 2012.
When they arrived there, they were shunned and harassed by other inmates. Matt has been sleeping on the ground for a year without visitors. He is now sickly and skinny, suffering from bad nutrition, diarrhea, cough and malaria.
NICKI and ROLIE
The visitors from Camfaids were unable to meet with two other prisoners — Nicki and Rolie, a young man and a young woman — who are detained in the central prison after being accused of practicing homosexuality.
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- ‘A new low by Cameroon’s government’ (76crimes.com)