Will Justice Ever Come to Southern Cameroons?
These latest adjournments are due to the failure of a key prosecution witness, proconsul for
On 17 April 2007, Mr Sombe Simon did not appear in court, causing the hearings to be delayed until 19 June 2007. Then, in June, none of the prosecution witnesses, along with the presiding Judge, Justice Julius Nchu Cheo, managed to present themselves in court. The proceedings were then adjourned until 28 August 2007, at which point Mr. Sombe Simon was again found to be missing.
Prior to the delays in the actual trial, bail hearings had been adjourned on no less than six occasions, resulting in the imprisonment of the defendants for more than 50 days. This prompted condemnation from Members of European Parliament Mr. Marco Pannella and Mr. Marco Cappato, who called for the Cameroonian courts to conduct a fair and open trial, free of unnecessary delays. As their statement from 15 June 2007 reads, they urge Justice Nchu Julius Cheo to “ensure that the trial is conducted in a free and fair manner”, and that “any individual responsible for delaying hearings will be held accountable”.
There are allegations that the continuous delays are a tactic to keep SCNC members imprisoned and to avoid having to provide evidence against the defendants, thus disrupting any chance of a fair trial.
UNPO condemns the blatant disregard of human rights in Southern Cameroons, and has therefore appealed to Mr. Leandro Despouy, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Ms. Evelyn Petrus-Barry, Central Africa – UN Sub-Regional Center for Human Rights and Democracy to;
- Urge authorities in the Republic of Cameroon to provide free and fair judicial proceedings in accordance with internationally recognized legal standards; and
- Urge Yaoundé to immediately halt its ongoing persecution of the Anglophone
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