Police in Cameroon arrested 12 people on homosexuality charges on the night of Nov. 29 in Yaoundé for having condoms and lubricating gel in their possession at a video club.
The club patrons were all well-behaved, according to the club’s doorman. Police forced them to say that they were homosexuals and that they frequented the club for that reason. The 12 arrestees were taken to the Emombo police station.
The incident began with the earlier arrest of two boys for lack of identity cards, according to a joint press release from Alternatives Cameroon and Humanity First Cameroon, two groups that work for LGBT rights and against AIDS.
Police inquired about the source of the condoms and lubricating gels. They were told that the materials came from the United Nations anti-AIDS program, UNAIDS, according to Jules Eloundou, the president of Humanity First Cameroon.
The Emombo police division has earned a reputation of harassing homosexuals and making arrests for alleged homosexuality. In April, for example, a young man named Hervé was arrested after being entrapped by a member of the presidential guard. The police commander, Jean Esso, has been relentless in his pursuit of alleged homosexuals and has clashed publicly with the leaders of Humanity First.
On Nov. 30, the day after the 12 arrests, Eloundou requested intervention from attorney Jatan Ndongo, the legal counsel of the Global Fund’s HIV / AIDS prevention project. Ndongo visited the police station and negotiated the eventual release of the 12 men. Seven of them were freed early on Dec. 1. The remaining five were released around 4:30 p.m.
Denunciations and proposals
In their press release, Yaoundé-based Humanity First Cameroon and Douala-based Alternatives Cameroon denounced:
- Use of HIV prevention materials as evidence of homosexuality;
- This resurgence of arrests on the basis of alleged sexual orientation, coming after a lull in such arrests.
They appealed for:
- A dialogue between the Ministry of Public Health and the Ministry of Justice about key populations in the fight against AIDS;
- Involvement of judiciary and law enforcement agencies in anti-AIDS programs.
The author of this article is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym.
- LGBTI activists challenge Cameroon police harassment (April 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Cameroon police detain accused gay man for 9 days (April 2016, 76crimes.com)
- Another attack on a Cameroon activist; a plea for help (July 2015, 76crimes.com)
- LGBTI rights leader faces Cameroon police shakedown
- Cameroon: Human rights plea provokes death threat (March 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Quick response to new anti-gay persecution in Cameroon (October 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Cameroon police arrest LGBT activist, block AIDS clinic (February 2014, 76crimes.com)
- Jonas and Franky, freed but now in hiding (January 2013, 76crimes.com)