Leading human rights and democracy advocates are expressing concern for the safety of a prominent Cameroonian activist. Maximilienne Ngo Mbe (right), who heads the network of human rights defenders in Central Africa (REDHAC), has received numerous threats to her life and the lives of her family.
Unidentified individuals attempted to kidnap her son on 5 April while he was at school, following several weeks of violent threats issued by phone and SMS, according to the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights, a joint program of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization against Torture (OMCT).
The intimidation is not new, OMCT reports:
In September 2012, Ms. Ngo Mbe’s niece was kidnapped and raped by men wearing Cameroonian security and military attire after the assailants reportedly confused her with Ms. Ngo Mbe’s daughter. A subsequent complaint to police and national security remains unanswered. The threats intensified after Ms. Ngo Mbe demanded that suspected security forces should leave the inaugural meeting of the Pan-African human rights defenders hosted by REDHAC, a grantee of the National Endowment for Democracy, on 18-22 March.
A participant in the World Movement for Democracy, Ms. Ngo Mbe “received messages from the telephone number +237 76 10 05 79, both of which suggested that her life and the life of her children were in imminent danger,” Freedom House reports:
Ms. Ngo Mbe has reason to believe that these threats—as ones she has received before—are coming from the Cameroonian authorities. For more than twenty years, Ms. Ngo Mbe has worked tirelessly to protect human rights in Central Africa as executive director of the Central African Human Rights Defenders Network (Réseau des Défenseur des Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale, REDHAC). During that time, she has been harassed, placed under near constant surveillance and subject to interference by Cameroonian authorities.
The Observatory requests that concerned parties write to the Cameroonian authorities asking them to:
i. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Ngo Mbe Maximilian and her family, as well as all defenders of human rights in Cameroon;
ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Maximilienne Ms. Ngo Mbe, and all defenders of human rights in Cameroon;
iii. Conduct a thorough, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the events described above, to identify and prosecute those responsible;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, and more particularly: Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote the protection and realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; and Article 12.2 which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure that the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure, pressure or any other arbitrary action as part of the legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
v. More generally, comply with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international and regional instruments relating to human rights ratified by Cameroon.
Addresses: · Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic, President of the Republic, the Unity Palace, 1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon, Fax +237 222 August 70 ·
Mr. Philemon Yang, Prime Minister and Head of Government, Prime Minister of Cameroon, Fax: +237 22 23 57 35, email: email@example.com ·
Mr. Laurent Esso Minister of Justice, Attorney, Department of Justice, 1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon, Fax: + 237 223 00 05 ·
Mr. Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defence B.P1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon, Fax +237 223 59 71 ·
Mr. Emmanuel Rene SADI Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralization, Fax: + 237 222 37 35 ·
Chairman of the National Commission of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (NCHRF), Tel: +237 222 61 17, Fax: +237 222 60 82 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ·
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, 6 rue du Nant, 1207 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: + 41 22 736 21 65, Email: mission.cameroun @ bluewin.ch ·
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Brussels, 131 BC. Brugmann, 1190 Forest, Belgium, Tel: + 32 2 345 18 70, Fax: + 32 2 344 57 35, Email: ambassade.cameroun @ skynet.be
Please also write to the embassies of Cameroon in your respective countries.
Cameroon is rated Not Free by Freedom in the World 2013 and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2013.