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President Paul Biya of Cameroon

Cameroon: Peaceful protesters targeted in violent crackdown must be released

Paul Biya of Cameroon

Following the mass arbitrary arrests of protesters in several cities in Cameroon on 26 January, Samira Daoud, Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Deputy Director has said that: 

“The Cameroonian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release protesters detained simply for exercising their right to peaceful protest at the weekend. No one should face arrest simply for speaking out.

“The crackdown on peaceful protests across several cities undermines the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Cameroon. The authorities must end repression of protests and uphold the country’s constitutional and international human rights obligations.

“Peaceful demonstrations are systematically banned in Cameroon in a bid to repress any dissent and more than one hundred protesters were arrested over the weekend.

“Several protesters, including a lawyer and an activist, were beaten and were wounded by shots from security forces. The authorities must undertake a prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigation into the attacks on peaceful protesters and bring to justice anyone suspected to be responsible.’’

 Background

On Saturday 26 January, opposition party Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC), the party of Maurice Kamto who arrived second at the October 2018 presidential election, called for public protests or “marches blanches” all over the country to contest alleged mass irregularities during the electoral process.

Security forces, in response to the protests-which were not authorized- used excessive force against demonstrators. Seven people were shot and injured in the city of Douala, while other protesters were beaten.

More than hundred protesters were arrested in Douala, Yaoundé, Dschang, Bafoussam and Bafang. Around 50 were released on Sunday and the remaining have been placed under administrative custody.

 Rene Emmanuel Sadi, the government’s spokesperson, denied use of live ammunition against protesters but social media are still showing sequences of automatic gunfire in Douala and a member of the riot police shooting at the legs of a protester.

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