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Human Rights Activists Castigate Torture Of Detained Anglophones 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

Agbor Balla

The network of Human Rights Defenders in Central Africa has condemned the traumatising treatment of detained Anglophone leaders and other political prisoners at the Kondengui Prison.

The network registered its disapproval in a communiqué published in Yaounde recently.

The press release was a reaction to an ugly incident in which the prison authorities searched the cells of the detainees, seizing their personal communication gadgets and money.

Those whose cells were searched are Barrister Agbor Balla, Dr.Fontem Neba, Harissou Aboubakar Sidiki, who are all accused of plotting against the State with the detained former Minister, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, the Mayor of Fotokol, Ramat Moussa, accused of collaborating with Boko Haram as well as the imprisoned RFI Haussa Language reporter, Abba Amed.

Following an order of the Kondengui Prison Superintendent, Senguena Abada Selestin, the detainees are warned not to entertain any visits for close to a month.

Thus, the detainees have been deprived of receiving their loved ones since July 7. The blackout will end on July 30.

Dr. Neba Fontem

According to the human rights defenders, such decision is a gross violation of article 5 of the African Charter on human and people’s rights.

It provides for the respect of human dignity and prohibits the moral and physical torture of human persons.

The act of the prison authorities also violates article 7 of the international pact relating to civil and political rights.

Meanwhile, one of the journalists languishing in pre-trial detention at Kondengui Principal Prison has been charged with “promoting terrorism”.

According to an online tabloid known as le journal du Cameroun, Tilarius Atia of the Sun Newspaper was charged at the Yaounde Military Tribunal on July 14.

Atia, who was brought to court in handcuffs, has been in detention since February 9.

It is difficult to say what the court is basing its charged on. It can be recalled that Atia, who is the Political Desk Editor of The Sun, was arrested in Buea alongside Amos Fofung of The Guardian Post Newspaper and the Publisher of the Bamenda-based Newspaper, Voice of the Voiceless, MoforNdong.

Even though Ndong was present at the Yaounde Military Tribunal, it is not clear if the same charge was slammed on him.

Fofung was not brought to court.

The three journalists are not the only media persons arrested in connection with the ongoing crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.

The Publisher of the Bamenda-based Life Time Newspaper, Finian Tim Njua, journalist for the Jakari Community Radio in Bui Division, Hans. Achumba, Publisher of the Aghem monthly Magazine, Thomas Awah Junior, are all gnashing in pre-trial detention at the Kondengui Prison.

As observers are waiting for the trial to begin, the Committee to Protect Journalists has called for their immediate release, wondering how journalists, who were just doing their job by collecting, treating and disseminating information are accused of promoting terrorism.

Those who have been charged are accused of violating the 2014 law on the suppression of acts of terrorism. If found guilty, they will face death sentence or life jail.

Many peace crusaders and international organisations like the United Nations have called on Government to release all those detained in connection with the Anglophone Problem so as to pave the way for appeasement, national dialogue and reconciliation. Government is yet to react to the avalanche of calls.