Wednesday, October 2, 2019

National Dialogue: 'UN' rules on Mancho Bibixy detention

In July 2018, LRWC wrote to the Cameroonian authorities protesting the arrest, prosecution, conviction and detention
of Mancho Bibixy Tse. Mancho Bibixy Tse is a radio journalist who broadcast on Bamunda FM radio in Cameroon. He used his broadcasts to draw attention to the economic and social marginalization of the English-speaking minority in Cameroon and the violations by the Cameroonian government of the constitutionally protected rights of this English-speaking minority.

In January 2017, Mancho Bibixy Tse was arrested without a warrant and detained in a maximum security prison in Yaoundé. His arrest was the government's response to his participation in a peaceful protest and peaceful strike held in November 2016 in which he publicly denounced the Cameroonian government for treating the English-speaking minority while he was in a coffin. on a public square known as the "coffin revolution".

During his pre-trial detention, he had minimal contact with his family and supporters. His health deteriorated and he went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his imprisonment. His trial was postponed to May 2018. At the end of his trial in a military court, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a fine of 265 million Cameroonian francs (about 408,000 euros). The alleged offenses for which he was convicted included acts of terrorism, pleas, false information, revolution, insurrection, sedition, destruction of public property and non-production of an identity card.

The concerns expressed in LRWC's letter related to the circumstances of his arrest, the length and conditions of his detention on remand, his trial in a military court and the condemnation of acts based on the exercise of freedom of expression. peaceful meeting. protest.

Based on the letter from LRWC, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reviewed the case of Mancho Bibixy and invited the Government of Cameroon to respond to the concerns expressed in this letter. . The Government of Cameroon submitted two voluminous replies, alleging inter alia that:

the Working Group's investigation was premature because Mancho Bibixy Tse had not exhausted his local remedies (appeal),

there was and there was no has no English minority in Cameroon

his actions to arrest and detain Mancho Bibixy Tse were undertaken in the state of emergency necessary to protect civil society from insurrections and physical violence. These actions were therefore not required to respect international human rights obligations.

The trial in a military court was appropriate because the charges against Mancho Bibixy Tse resulted from acts of terrorism.

LRWC has spent a lot of time responding to the government's position.

After a lengthy review, WGAD issued an opinion letter on August 15 of this year. The opinion essentially accepts the legitimacy of the concerns expressed in LRWC's letter. It states the determination of the GTDA that the deprivation of liberty of Mancho Bibixy Tse is contrary to Articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Articles 2, 3, 9 and 14 of the International Covenant. on civil and political rights. and constitutes arbitrary detention.

The opinion also invites the Government of Cameroon to take corrective measures, including:

the immediate release of Mancho Bibixy Tse from prison entitling him to obtain compensation in accordance with international law  conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances of his arbitrary detention and take appropriate measures to hold those responsible accountable by using all methods available to publicize and disseminate the advice of the WGTD.

Provide the WGAD with an update on the measures taken for release, reparations and investigation within six months,

Provide a report to the Working Group on Legislative and Systemic Change that the government has been able to undertake or is currently considering in order to avoid similar situations - help many the notice also indicates that the working Group refers the matter to the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, who will take appropriate action as it Office will deem necessary or appropriate.

LRWC will continue to monitor the situation of Mancho Bibixy Tse and will in particular await the report of the Cameroonian Government that the Working Group has requested within six months.