Cameroon: Five Months In, Activist Abdul Karim Still In Detention
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Having been arrested back on August 11, 2022, Cameroonian activist Abdul Karim Ali has now clocked five (5) months in detention with the international human rights organization, Amnesty International calling for the release of the “peace activist.”
While there are no official charges against Ali, media reports and Amnesty International have learnt that he is accused of “apology of terrorism” for possessing a video on his phone showing alleged human rights abuses committed by a Cameroonian soldier against civilians in the North West and South West Regions.
“In the absence of information from the justice system what we know is that Abdul Karim Ali was arrested after he denounced torture committed and broadcast online by the leader of a pro-government militia in the South West region of the country. If this is the only reason for his arrest he should be released immediately and unconditionally since his detention would stem solely from the exercise of his right to freedom of expression,” said Fabien Offner, a researcher at Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Regional Office.
Arbitrary detention and mistreatment of detainees are rife in Cameroon. Many people perceived as opposing the government are held on bogus charges related to national security or terrorism.
Following his arrest in 2019, Ali was taken to the State Defense Secretariat (Secrétariat d’État à la défense, SED), a notorious detention facility in the capital, Yaoundé, where Human Rights Watch has documented widespread use of torture. Ali was held incommunicado until his whereabouts were finally made public in September 2019 when he appeared before the Yaoundé Military Court and was charged with acts of terrorism, financing terrorism, and secession. He was released on November 1, 2019.
Amnesty International stated that since Adul Karim Ali, Rabio Enuah and Sulemanu Yenkong were transferred to SED, they have been produced to the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé twice but have never been presented before the Commissaire du government (State Prosecutor). Rather, they were kept in a mosquitoes infested cell for several hours before being returned to SED late in the night.
“The detention of Abdul Karim Ali is taking place in a period where the Cameroonian authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain those who criticise the government or denounce human rights violations in the context of armed violence in Anglophone regions of the country. The authorities must immediately present a legally recognizable charge against Abdul Karim Ali or release him,” Fabien Offner added.
“His detention is taking place in a period where the Cameroonian authorities continue to arbitrarily arrest and detain those who criticise the government or denounce human rights violations in the context of armed violence in Anglophone regions of the country.”