UN human rights experts call on Cameroon government to release main opposition leader Maurice Kamto

Fourteen independent United Nations human rights experts  called on Cameroon to release the main opposition leader  Maurice Kamto and others arrested during peaceful protests across the country, and to stop the intimidation against political activists. 

The experts also called on Cameroon to impartially investigate all human rights violations, including allegations of enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and mistreatment of demonstrators, and bring the perpetrators to justice. legal acts. 

“We are extremely concerned about the mass arrests of peaceful protesters and political activists who express their dissent,” the experts said in a joint statement. 

More than 500 people were reportedly arrested following protests organized by the Cameroonian opposition on September 22, and some 200 are still in detention. They risk being accused of terrorism and attacking national security and being tried by a military tribunal for having exercised their fundamental freedoms. 

Violence against protesters was disproportionate, with the use of tear gas and water cannons to violently disperse them 

UN experts also expressed concern over the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters by Cameroonian security forces. “The violence against the protesters was disproportionate, with the use of tear gas and water cannons to violently disperse them,” they said. 

“The house arrest of Mr. Kamto could constitute a deprivation of liberty, in violation of his rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, as well as of liberty and security of person”, declared the experts. 

Cameroon should celebrate and accept dissent, because a true democracy takes into account the demands of the people instead of suppressing them 

“We have already expressed our concerns to the State and we remind Cameroon that under international law everyone has the right to organize and participate in peaceful assemblies, to associate with others. and to take part in the conduct of public life. None of these acts is a crime, and Cameroon should celebrate and accept dissent, because a true democracy takes into account the demands of the population instead of repressing them”, they added. 

As regional elections are due to take place across the country later this year, experts called on the Cameroonian authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure an environment conducive to peaceful and transparent elections. 

“Any action likely to fuel new social tensions must be avoided, and the voices of the people and their representatives must be fully taken into account,” they said. 

Photo Credit : https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Maurice_Kamto,_November_2018.jpg

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