The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa has bemaoned the life sentence slammed on the ten detained Ambazonia separatist leaders by the Yaounde military tribunal.
Julius Ayuk Tabe and nine others were handed a life sentence on Tuesday morning during a night-long hearing prompting widespread condemnation from several quarters.
The Centre for Human Rights and Democracy run by human rights lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongo has frowned at the verdict by the court and said it will only help to hardn the position of separatists.
Below is a full statement of the CHRDA;
“Today 20th August 2019, the Cameroon Military Tribunal in Yaoundé sentenced Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and nine of his close associates to life imprisonment and jointly fined them the sums of 250 billion and 12.5 billion FCFA for damages and costs of proceedings respectively. The life incarceration of the ten leaders of the Anglophone struggle for a separate state came after, more than one year of trial following their controversial abduction from Nigeria where they were seeking asylum. This sentence comes at a time when the national and international community is encouraging the government of Cameroon to release and grant amnesty to all persons detained in connection with the Anglophone Crisis as a show of goodwill toward finding a lasting solution to the protracted crisis. CHRDA expresses deep concerns:
- That Sisiku and his nine associates and other Southern Cameroonians incarcerated in perpetuity in Prisons in Yaounde and elsewhere represent the live wire of the Anglophone struggle for independence and that their life imprisonment may harden the position of separatists.
- That the life sentence handed down to the Anglophone leaders amidst calls for their release by well-meaning stakeholders within and outside of Cameroon demonstrates the Cameroon government’s insensitivity to the wishes of its citizens and the international community;
- That the life sentence imposed on Sisiku and his associates could potentially spark spates of renewed violence by separatist loyalists with dire consequences on civilian populations living within the already beleaguered English-speaking regions.
- That the life sentence imposed on Sisiku and his associates may be viewed as the government’s determination to not resolve the Anglophone crisis despite its awareness that the release of the leaders represents a first step in finding a durable solution to the current crisis;
- That the continued war in Anglophone Cameroon would continue to weaken the state of Cameroon’s ability to meet its responsibilities to its citizens and could lead to further instability throughout the national territory.
Taking all of the above situations into account, CHRDA calls on the government of Cameroon to heed the call of people of goodwill towards Cameroon and show greater good faith in seeking solutions to the current crisis.
CHRDA urges the government of Cameroon to grant the convicted persons all due process guarantees in any further legal processes available to them and to consider making use of available amnesty mechanisms that would create a conducive climate for dialogue.