The Observatory was informed by reliable sources of the continuing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Célestin Yandal, president of the Touboro Youth Collective, an organisation defending the rights of young people in the Adamaoua region.
The Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders, joint FIDH and OMCT programme, urges you to intervene regarding the following situation in Cameroon.
New information :
According to the information received, on 19 June 2014, for the fifth time in a row, Mr Célestin was not able to appear before the prosecutor of Tcholliré in the context of his trial. The hearings were regularly sent back, in the absence of a mandate allowing the human rights defender to leave the Garoua prison grounds, where he has been detained since 5 december 2013.
Mr Célestin Yandal is kept in preventive detention since his arrest on 23 novembre 2013, and is being prosecuted for 5 different charges. Three fall within the competence of the prosecutor, namely « destruction of the Head of state’s effigys during the 30 September 2013 legislative and municipal elections », « destruction of the Lamido1 de Rey-Bouba barrier », and « simple threats and violation of a Djavor official’s home » ; and two within the competence of the investigating judge, namely « murder attempt on a so-called Abdou, one of Lamido’s supporters », and « aggravated theft at a Dogari’s house (Lamido soldier), who declares that Mr Yandal and his colleagues have assaulted him and stole 92 000 FCFA from him » ( 140 euros).
The Observatory is concerned by the continuing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr Yandal, which are based on false accusations aiming solely at punishing activities supporting of human rights.
On 23 november 2013, Mr Yandal was placed in detention at the Ngaoundéré police station, where he was expecting to meet privately with one of his relative working at the police station, on the advice of a policeman who was not wearing a uniform he met a few hours earlier. Mr Yandal was on his way back from a journey to Douala where he talked with members of the Central African Human rights defenders Network ( REDHAC) on 19 november regarding the violations suffered by several young persons from Touboro and conducted by the Rey Bouba Lamido, second vice-President of the cameroonese senate. The latter had indeed ordered the local authorities, and in particular the prosecutor of the Tcholliré Republic, to arrest fourteen young people from this community on charges of having caused public unrest during altercations with the Lamido supporters who had come to steal from the people of the community.
Detained at the Ngaoundéré police station from 23 November to 5 December 2013, he was transferred in the night of the 5 December at 2 o’ clock in the morning from Ngaoundéré to Tcholliré, without specific reasons , in order to appear before the Tcholliré prosecutor, who first informed him of his liberation, before arresting him again as he was leaving the court, informing him of his detention warrant at the Tcholliré prison.
Following his appearance before the Tcholliré prosecutor, Mr Yandal was transferred on 5 December 2013 to the central prison of Garoua, officially to ensure « his security ». He then appeared for the first time on 16 January 2014 before the Northern Court of Appeal, a hearing during which his lawyer requested his pre-trial release, presenting all the guarantees required by the law. The Court has however rejected this release request, and sent back the hearing, on the grounds that « the Tcholliré prosecutor had not sent his conclusions ».
On 26 February, in the framework of a rogatory commission put in place by the public prosecutor’s office, Mr Yandal was heared by the investigating judge, who informed him of his next appearance before the Tcholliré prosecutor on 20 March 2014. His lawyer immediately took the matter to the supreme court to ask that his client be judged at Garoua or in any jurisdiction other than Tcholliré, arguing that the Tcholliré prosecutor could not be impartial in this case, and that his client would hence not benefit of a fair trial within this jurisdiction. Since then, the hearings are regularly sent back.
Required actions :
The Observatory urges you to write to the cameroonese authorities asking them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr Célestin Yandal and of all human rights defenders in Cameroon ;
ii. Free Mr Yandal immediately and unconditionnally since his detention is arbitrary and only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities ;
iii. Put an end to all forms of harassment against Mr Yandal as well as all human rights defenders in Cameroon ;
iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on human rights defenders, adopted by the United Nations general assembly on 9 December 1998, and more specifically
its article 1 which states that Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote the protection and realisation of all human rights and of all fundamental liberties at the national at international level »
its article 9 stipulating that « everyone has the right, individually and in association with others :
a) to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and all fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in legislative, judicial or administrative systems ; b) in accordance with international instruments concerning human rights and other relevant international instruments, to publish, communicate to others or share freely ideas, information and knowledge on all human rights and all fundamental freedoms c) to study, discuss, appreciate and evaluate the respect, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and of all fundamental freedoms and, by these means and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters ;
and its article 12.2 stipulating that « the state takes all necessary measures to ensure that the competent authorities protect all persons, individually and in association with others, from all violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure discrimination, pressure and all other arbitrary action in the framework of the lawful exercise of the rights aimed in the present Declaration » ;
v. more generally, comply with the provisions of the universal declaration on human rights and international and regional instruments concerning human rights ratified by Cameroon.
Mr. Paul Biya, President of the Republic, Palais de l’Unité, 1000 Yaoundé, Cameroun, Fax +237 222 08 70
Mr. Philémon Yang, Prime minister and Head of Government, Primature du Cameroun, Fax : +237 22 23 57 35 et courriel : email@example.com
Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice, Garde des Sceaux, Ministry of Justice, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroun, Fax : + 237 223 00 05
Mr. Alain Edgard Mebe Ngo’o, Deputy Minister to the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defense B.P1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroun, Fax +237 223 59 71
Mr. SADI René Emmanuel, Territorial Administration Decentralisation Minister Fax : + 237 222 37 35
President of the National Commission on Human Rights and Liberties (CNDHL), 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 in Geneva, rue du Nant 6, 1207 Genève, Suisse, Fax : + 41 22 736 21 65, Email : email@example.com
Republic of Cameroon ambassy in Brussels, 131 av. Brugmann, 1190 Forest, Belgium, Tel : + 32 2 345 18 70 ; Fax : + 32 2 344 57 35 ; Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Republic of Cameroon in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, 26 June 2014
Please inform the Observatory of all actions undertaken by indicating the code of the call.
The Observatory, joint FIDH and OMCT programme, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.