Ongoing case against lawyers in Cameroon

Who we wrote to

The president of the Republic of Cameroon, Paul Biya.

What’s the issue

In our letters of 13 February 2017 and 25 April 2017 we raised concerns about military jurisdiction being exercised over civilians, as well as prolonged pre-trial detention of defendants in Cameroon.

We carried out an observation of the hearing that took place on 27 April 2017 at the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé in the case against Felix Agbor Balla and others. We shared our trial observation report with the president’s offices and other authorities in Cameroon shortly afterwards.

We understand that the president of the Republic of Cameroon has now ordered the unconditional release and withdrawal of proceedings against Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Neba, Paul Ayah Abine and approximately 52 other defendants.We welcome this development and recognise Cameroon's efforts to comply with its international legal obligations.

However, although we see this release as a positive step, we remain concerned about the continued pre-trial detention of barrister Walter Abadem and others.

We understand that Mr Abadem was arrested in Buea and transported by police officers to Yaoundé. He was detained at Kondengui prison and spent some time in a hospital in Yaoundé after suffering from a back problem.

We understand that Mr Abadem remains in detention and that charges against him are still pending before the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé.

What we asked for

We urge that the relevant authorities:

  • release Mr Abadem and others without delay and withdraw the charges against them, if no reliable or sufficient evidence is available and such evidence is presented to them and their legal representatives
  • make sure that Mr Abadem and others’ conditions in detention meet with international and regional standards
  • make sure Mr Abadem and others are tried by an ordinary court, not a military tribunal, and that they can appeal any judgment rendered through independent and impartial judicial proceedings that respect due process standards

We'll continue to monitor the situation of Mr Abadem, as well as that of Felix Agbor Balla, Fontem Neba, Paul Ayah Abine, and others.