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Cameroon: Military court imposes 10-year sentence on young men who joked about Boko Haram

 President Paul Biya of Cameroon.j

President Paul Biya of Cameroon.j

In response to the 10-year jail sentence handed down to 27-year-old Fomusoh Ivo Feh and two of his friends recently convicted by the Military Court of Yaoundé for “non-denunciation of terrorist acts”, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa has said:

“Fomusoh Ivo and his two friends should never have been arrested in the first place, as they were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression. Instead of being in school like their friends, these three young men will now spend years of their lives in prison for a simple joke.

“This ruling is clear evidence that Cameroonian military courts should not have jurisdiction to try civilians. The Cameroonian authorities must quash their conviction and sentence and immediately and unconditionally release all three of them.”

Amnesty International strongly condemns the sentence imposed by a Military Court on Fomusoh Ivo Feh, and his friends Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob – who were convicted of ‘non-denunciation of terrorist acts’ following a flawed trial in Yaoundé, and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment.

Ivo, whom Amnesty International considers to be a prisoner of conscience, was arrested on 13 December 2014 after forwarding his friends a sarcastic SMS referring to Boko Haram. He was held in police custody in Douala before being transferred to Yaoundé Prison in January 2015.

As documented by Amnesty International, legal proceedings involving “acts of terrorism” in Cameroonian military courts fail to meet international fair trial standards. Many of those who have been brought to court under suspicion of supporting Boko Haram have faced unfair trials in which the burden of proof is often reversed and people are convicted on the basis of limited and unverifiable evidence. Trials of civilians before military courts also raise a number of concerns about independence, impartiality and guarantees of fair trial rights.

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