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Cameroon police free accused gay-bashing blackmailer

Alternatives-Cameroun logoPolice in Cameroon have freed an anti-gay blackmailer, despite testimony from numerous victims that he ambushed, assaulted and threatened them.

That is the complaint made today in a public statement by Alternatives-Cameroon, which fights against AIDS and advocates for human rights for LGBT people in coastal Cameroon.

Shortly after his release, with no charges against him, the accused blackmailer, Arold Ndelo, began making death threats against those who had testified against him, activists say. One man, for example, received the message, “I know who you are. …The type of knife that I’ll show you will make you piss yourself, I swear. … That’s how you’ll die.”

Alternatives-Cameroon said the official acceptance of a blackmailer showed that Issa Bakary Tchiroma, Cameroon’s minister of communication, was wrong when he said at a press conference last week that “There is no judicial harassment” of homosexuals. 

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Cameroon's minister of communication (Photo courtesy of Camer.be)

Issa Bakary Tchiroma, Cameroon’s minister of communication (Photo courtesy of Camer.be)

Tchiroma held the press conference to respond to “Cameroon: the Calvary of Homosexuals,” a report broadcast by France 24  that described the country’s repression and imprisonment of LGBT people and reported on the death of Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, who was imprisoned for  sending an amorous text to a man and died this month, allegedly after being denied medical care by his homophobic family.

Although 13 or more Cameroonians are currently in prison on homosexuality charges and eight more are awaiting trial, Tchiroma said the documentary was a conspiracy against Cameroon.

“In Cameroon, there are known homosexuals who roam freely in the streets, and some go to work each day without being worried,” he said.

This is today’s statement by Alternatives-Cameroon:

Homosexuality in Cameroon:  Inaction by the authorities fosters insecurity for defenders of human rights

Location of Douala in Cameroon (Map courtesy of Penpals-du-Monde.blogspot.com)

Map of Cameroon (Courtesy of Penpals-du-Monde.blogspot.com)

Mr. Arold Ndelo (AKA Nicky Menage), who has been responsible for several cases of assaults, ambushes and blackmail of several alleged homosexuals in Cameroon, was released by the judicial authorities despite a complaint filed against him and the testimony of many  victims who went  to the police station at Bonamoussadi in North Akwa in hopes of finally seeing justice done.

Background

On the night of December 28, 2013 , the human rights association Alternatives-Cameroon was notified by Mr. Désiré N that he was being attacked by Mr.  Arold Ndelo  (AKA Nicky Menage) at the JC Bonamoussadi crossroads in Douala,  Cameroon. The association intervened, which not only interrupted Mr.  Ndelo’s crime, but also led to his arrest and his detention at the Bonamoussadi police station in North Akwa.

Police received testimony about his history of  assaults and blackmail from victims who came forward in order to put an end to the activities of Mr. Ndelo’s and his gang.  Despite all that, and despite the intervention of attorney Alice Nkom on behalf of Mr. Désiré N, police in North Akwa wanted to take not only Mr. Ndelo, but also Mr. Désiré N, before the judge of the Court of First Instance in Ndokoti, because Mr. Ndelo had accused Mr. Désiré N of being homosexual.

The judge referred the case back to the police for more investigation and the police released Mr. Ndelo on January 3, 2014. Since his release, he has repeatedly threatened to kill the human rights defenders who  contributed to his arrest.

This is a reality that contradicts the statements of the Department of Communication (the government spokesman) who during his press conference on Thursday, January 23, 2014, stated: “There is no judicial harassment against homosexuals in Cameroon. ”

Denunciations and Appeals

Once again, Alternatives-Cameroon denounces :

  • The injustice of legal authorities who repeatedly misinterpret the law whenever the victims of assaults try to defend themselves in court ;
  • The laxity of Cameroonian authorities, who foster a climate of insecurity in the LGBTI community and among  human rights defenders.

Alternatives-Cameroon calls for:

  • Cameroonian authorities to take concrete steps to put an end to judicial harassment of suspected homosexuals in Cameroon, thus making the words of the communications minister true.  To accomplish this,  the country must repeal Article 347 bis of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sexual relations between people of the same sex.
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