March 20, 2013

III. Case Studies

In October 2012, Cameroonian Police Chief Martin Mbarga Nguélé met with CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch and explained how article 347 bis is intended to be enforced. He stated, “We’re not going to arrest people in their room. It’s when they’re doing something publicly that poses a threat to our society.”[23] Numerous case studies, below, prove otherwise.

Still more worrying, particularly in the Cameroonian context in which serious crimes, such as human trafficking and international drug smuggling, often go unresolved, law enforcement officials appear to put significant effort into devising strategies to entrap people who are suspected of homosexuality—even when there is no clear evidence that these persons have committed any crime.[24]

In three cases documented here, men, or their family members, filed complaints with law enforcement officials after receiving unwelcome attention from other men. If such attention rose to the level of harassment under Cameroonian law, it would be of legitimate concern to law enforcement officials. However, none of the “victims” in question filed harassment complaints, nor did they file complaints regarding actual or attempted rape or sexual assault. Rather, they were simply irritated by the fact that they were receiving unwanted attention from a man (an everyday source of irritation to many women in Cameroon and elsewhere, which generally does not, however, result in criminal investigations).

In all three cases, law enforcement officials conspired with the “victims” to entrap the suspects, by encouraging the “victims” to make dates with their alleged suitors. Law enforcement officials then pounced, accusing suspects of “attempted homosexuality,” often when there was no clear evidence to suggest the accused had any intention of engaging in sexual conduct.

Cases That Have Been Finalized

Case Study 1: Jonas K., Franky D., and Hilaire N.

On the night of July 26, 2011, police from the Mobile Intervention Group of Yaoundé stopped a vehicle that was “zigzagging” in the street. The police found three people inside the car. Two of them, Jonas K. and Franky D., are transgender. They identify as women and were dressed in women’s clothing.

According to the police report, when police approached the vehicle, which had pulled over, the individuals were “groping” each other’s genitals. One of them, Hilaire N., offered the police 20,000 CFA francs (approximately $40); by his account, this was at the request of the police officers. The three were detained for homosexuality and attempted bribery.

They were held in police custody at the Central Regional Division of the Judicial Police beyond the prescribed 48-hour limit. Police denied them the right to contact their families. According to Jonas K.:

We spent one week at the commissariat. We had no visits and couldn’t call our parents. Our parents didn’t know where we were until we got here [to Kondengui Prison].[25]

Both Jonas K. and Franky D. confessed to “groping” in the vehicle on the night of the arrest and said they had engaged in homosexual conduct in the past, but subsequently retracted their confessions, stating that they confessed under duress.[26]

Hilaire N. was released on bail on August 2.[27] He subsequently fled and did not appear for further hearings. On August 23, 2011, the High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou rejected a motion submitted by lawyers Alice Nkom and Michel Togué requesting that Jonas and Franky be released on bail.[28]

The trial took place on November 22, 2011. Franky D. and Jonas K. pled not guilty, but the court dismissed their claim that their initial confessions were made under duress.[29]  The court ruling also puts forth that “[Hilaire N.] also admits that he practices homosexuality”—although none of the police documents in the court file contain evidence suggesting that he confessed to homosexuality. Hilaire N. had told the police that he believed he was with two young women.[30]

In a decision rendered on the same day, the court convicted the three accused, including Hilaire N., who was tried in absentia, of homosexuality.[31] In violation of Cameroonian law, the court did not provide the opportunity to plead extenuating circumstances, which the defense had prepared to plead.[32] All three were sentenced to five years in prison, plus fines of 200,000 CFA (approximately $400) each. [33]

The accused’s lawyers filed an appeal the following day. Their submission argued that the judge’s comportment violated the obligation of impartiality and neutrality, which requires judges to “do justice to all without rancor.”[34] They submitted:

The High Court judge did not hide his partiality, let alone his homophobia, taking the accused to task over their taste in beverages, their way of dressing, and concluding that a “normal man doesn’t wear skirts, doesn’t drink Bailey’s whiskey, and doesn’t wear a weave.”[35]

The defense further submitted that article 347 bis violates the Cameroonian constitution; that the defendants were illegally held in police custody without authorization of the Legal Department, which is only permissible in cases of flagrant délit; that the law against homosexuality applies exclusively to “penetration by the male sexual organ of the anus of another man, which is evidently not the case here;” and that their clients were held in police custody for four days before being charged, in violation of the 48-hour limit.[36]

The Central Appeals Court heard the appeal on July 20, 2012. On January 7, 2013, after numerous delays, it overturned the conviction of Jonas K. and Franky D. They were released after a year-and-a-half in Kondengui Prison. Human rights advocates in Cameroon and abroad celebrated the decision, although the court has not yet released its reasoning, which may provide a positive precedent in pursuing other appeals.[37]

Case Study 2: E.A. and F.M.

On March 23, 2010, gendarmes caught two men, E.A. and F.M., fighting in the road. The gendarmes interrogated both men. According to the gendarmerie report, F.M. said they had engaged in sex in exchange for money, and had subsequently had a dispute regarding payment. E.A. stated that F.M. had tried to seduce him, but that he had refused.

Gendarmes arrested both men, justifying the arrest by stating that “the investigation carried out allowed [us] to collect evidence against the interested parties providing serious and consistent grounds to suspect that they committed or attempted to commit the crime of homosexuality.”[38] They detained the men on the basis of flagrant délit, although the two men were not caught in the act of having sex.

The men were convicted on May 14, 2010. They had no legal representation at trial. By the time their case came to the attention of ADEFHO, the time limit for filing an appeal had passed. The men served out their sentences and were released in late 2010.

Case Study 3: Jean Jacques E., Stéphane M., and John V.

On March 26, 2010, Douala police arrested Jean-Jacques E., Stéphane M., and John V. (an Australian citizen). John V. had arrived the previous day on a business trip, and had taken a room at the Hotel Méridien, where Jean-Jacques E., a friend for several years, joined him.

The next day, Stéphane arrived at the Hotel Méridien to meet John and Jean-Jacques for lunch. When Stéphane asked for John at the reception, he was quizzed by a receptionist: “Who is John to you?”[39] Stéphane waited in the lobby, but when his friends arrived, they were immediately intercepted by two men who introduced themselves as “immigration police inspectors” and instructed them to come to the immigration office.

Stéphane was separated from his friends and interrogated by an immigration agent about his relationship with Vasek. The agent refused Stéphane’s requests to call his sister and a lawyer. When Stéphane denied having engaged in homosexual conduct with John, the agent threatened him:

You keep playing the tough guy, you don’t want to say anything, but we know what you do with the white man. If you don’t talk, we’ll keep you here all weekend and no one will know where you are and I’ll see if you don’t talk on Monday.

Stéphane had a doctor’s appointment that afternoon to have the dressings changed on a wound. He told Human Rights Watch,

I had been operated on two weeks before, and I was supposed to go to the hospital at 3 pm that day [to change] the dressings. I explained this to them. They told me that if I didn’t confess, I didn’t have any right to the dressings. They deprived me of the dressings, and also my medication.[40]

When Stéphane continued to insist, explaining that he had recently been operated on for hemorrhoids, the inspector reportedly said, “You see what you’re telling me, it’s faggots who have operations on the anus, you’re a faggot.”[41]

After hours of interrogation by immigration officials, the men were taken to a judicial police commissioner and interrogated once more. Police statements show that all three men denied engaging in homosexual conduct, but John V. allegedly admitted to having once “cuddled” Jean-Jacques E. in a hotel in South Africa, “several years ago,” while Jean-Jacques E., interrogated separately, said he had kissed John V. in South Africa in 2008.[42] Stéphane continued to deny the charges[43] Cuddling and kissing are not crimes under Cameroonian law, all the less so when they take place outside Cameroon. On the basis of these statements, however, Police Commissioner Aloys Emmanuel Olgane concluded:

Based on the above, the crime of homosexual practices by [John V., Jean-Jacques E., and Stéphane M.] is substantiated by their statements.[44]

The police placed the three men in a holding cell. Stéphane was denied access to a doctor to change the dressings on his wound until three days later.[45] On Monday, March 29, the men were taken to the Parquet (prosecutor’s office), where they were released on bail.

On June 7, 2010, Alice Nkom, their lawyer, filed a motion arguing for the nullification of the charges as a result of due process violations. She argued there was no basis for her clients’ arrest and detention in police custody; that the law does not permit immigration agents to “substitute themselves for judicial police officers in order to carry our arrests without a warrant or complaint;” and that the immigration police submitted a document according to which they were turning over John V., alone, to the judicial police, with no corresponding paper trail concerning Jean Jacques E. and Stéphane M.’s arrest. She also submitted that article 347 bis violates the constitution.[46] The court never responded to these motions, in violation of article 382(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code.[47]

The men were tried in their absence on March 7, 2011. All three men had fled Cameroon by the time of the trial, and were therefore not represented. The outcome of the trial is unknown.

Cases with Pending Appeals Following Convictions

Case Study 4: Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E.

Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. were arrested, along with a housemate, Clement N., on September 26, 2010, after a fourth housemate, Emmanuel M., was accused of stealing a laptop from the woman from whom all four men were renting rooms.

Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. are still puzzled by the trajectory that led from a case concerning a stolen laptop to charges of homosexuality. According to the two men, Emmanuel M. had been arrested several days earlier on theft charges. Gendarmes appeared at their house on September 26, and said they were conducting a search related to Emmanuel M.’s arrest. The men welcomed the gendarmes into the house, believing they had nothing to hide. But the attitude of the gendarmes was confrontational from the beginning.[48]

Marc-Henri B. recounted to CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch his surprise at the turn of events that led to him being arrested, along with Bruno E. and Clement N. As he recalled:

It started with a story of a laptop, and became a story of homosexuality. The same night, we were locked up.
When the gendarmes came … they said they had come about the laptop and that if they found any drugs, they would arrest everyone. They didn’t find anything [drugs], but told us to come with them for more information. They had no warrant. They were four gendarmes from the SED [the Defense Ministry, le Secrétariat d'Etat à la defense]. We followed them to the post.
They asked us questions. They had found condoms and lubricant in the house, that’s why they asked us to come with them. Each of us was taken into a different office. They asked, “‘Glisse entre mecs’ [‘slide between guys’], what’s that?” I said “I don’t know anything about it. I live in the house, but the condoms and lubricants aren’t mine.”[49]
They asked me, “Since when have you been homosexual?” I asked, “Why are you asking me questions like that?” … I refused to respond to the questions…. They accused us of going out with ministers [of the government]. They asked, “What’s the name of the minister that you go out with?”  I haven’t gone out with ministers… They took us into custody.[50]

Records from the gendarmerie’s preliminary investigation allege that when Emmanuel M. was searched upon arrest, he was found with “condoms and lubricant labeled ‘glisse entre mecs’ (‘slide between guys’) with mention of ‘GAY for homosexual use,’” and that Emmanuel M. told them he got the condoms and lubricant from his housemates.[51] This led the gendarmes to request authorization from the prosecutor of the republic to investigate “suspicions of homosexual practices” by Marc-Henri B., Bruno E., and Clement N.

As Marc-Henri B. recounted, the three men were detained at the Brigade du Lac, apparently on the basis of the discovery of condoms and lubricant, and were quizzed about their alleged homosexual conduct. The statements (procès-verbaux), taken by Captain Dieudonné Donfack and Marshal Yougouda Sambo, show that among the questions put to Marc-Henri B. figured the query, “What homosexual network do you belong to?” Bruno E. was also asked about his membership in a “gay network.”[52] Both Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. refused to sign the statements taken by the gendarmes, documents that allege that the two men admitted to engaging in homosexual conduct in the past.

After over a week in custody, on October 4, Marc-Henri B., Bruno E., and Clement N. were taken to a military doctor, Annie Ngabala, for anal examinations. Ngabala’s report states that one of the men “seemed normal” but that “the digital rectal examination reveals a rectal cavity, which leaves nevertheless a doubt regarding sexorectal activity;” that another had anal lesions and “rectal hollowness, which suggests frequent and longstanding sexorectal activity;” and that a third had “a few fleshy bumps and a hollowness, indeed suggesting sexual activity but of moderate degree.”[53]

Despite Dr. Ngabala’s detailed descriptions of the men’s anal cavities, Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. say that the anal exams never took place. According to Marc-Henri B.,

She didn’t touch me, she just looked at me. She asked me questions, ‘Why do you do that? You’re destroying yourself.’ Then they took us back to the gendarmerie.[54]

By this time, the legal limit for pre-charge detention—48 hours in Cameroon—had long passed. Perhaps anxious to produce evidence to justify the arrest, the investigator, Yougouda, slapped Marc-Henri B. several times, Marc-Henri B. told CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch. Both men said that gendarmes asked them for bribes in exchange for their release, which they did not pay. Clement N. was released, for unknown reasons.

On October 5, Marc-Henri B., Bruno E. and Emmanuel M. were taken to the Parquet. There, Emmanuel M. was released.[55] The prosecution found that the gendarmerie file lacked sufficient evidence to incriminate any of the men. However, rather than ordering their release, the prosecutor ordered that Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. be returned to custody and that the file be returned to the gendarmes for further “information.” The two men were placed in custody at the police commissariat for a night, then returned to the gendarmerie brigade.[56]

On October 7, the two men were taken to Kondengui Prison. The prosecutor signed a provisional detention warrant, in violation of Cameroon’s Criminal Procedure Code, which states that prosecutors can only sign such a warrant “in case of flagrant délit.” In other cases, a judge must authorize pretrial detention. Nkom submitted a motion contesting the legality of the pre-trial detention, but the court dismissed the motion.[57]

The trial took place on December 24, 2010. On January 28, 2011, a judge convicted both men of “homosexuality” and sentenced Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. to six months in prison and a fine of 39,300 CFA francs ($78.60). In announcing the verdict, the judge did not read the full judgment, and did not explain the grounds on which the two men were convicted, according to their lawyer, Michel Togué. He explained, “The law says the judge has to read the entire judgment, but normally they just read the court’s disposition—as in this case. I don’t know if the condoms were considered as evidence.”

Bruno E. believes the judge knew the charges had no basis, but was under pressure to convict:

The court annulled everything, but sentenced me to six months. Maybe because this case was talked about a lot. There was pressure on them. The judge wanted to protect herself; she didn’t want to take a risk.[58]

On February 15, 2011, Togué submitted a motion to appeal the verdict. But an appeals hearing has never been scheduled, and astonishingly, nearly two years later, there is still no written judgment available.[59]

Marc-Henri B. and Bruno E. were released on April 7, 2011.

When CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch expressed concern about this case to Cameroon’s Police Chief Martin Mbarga Nguélé—pointing out that such arrests, by setting a precedent for the use of condoms and lubricant as evidence of criminal activity, might have a chilling effect on HIV/AIDS prevention work among men who have sex with men—Mbarga Nguélé told them, “We have important problems to resolve in Africa. Condoms is not one of them.”[60]

Case Study 5: Roger M.

Roger M. was arrested on March 2, 2011, based on several text messages that he sent to C.F. The first message confessed his “desire to sleep with a man”; a second message proposed that Roger and C.F. talk about Roger’s feelings, and a third message declared, “I’ve fallen in love with you.”

C.F. complained to the gendarmerie, and arranged with them that he would invite Roger M. to his home so that gendarmes could arrest Roger. At this point, according to Roger’s lawyer, Michel Togué, there was no evidence that any crime under Cameroonian law had been committed, in that none of these messages to C.F. constituted evidence of actual or attempted homosexual conduct.[61] Nonetheless, gendarmes went to C.F.’s home that evening and arrested Roger, without a warrant.

Roger was taken into custody, where he says he was beaten. He recalled:

I spent seven days at the brigade. I didn’t have access to a lawyer. I had no possibility to call my friends. No one knew where I was. They called me all the time to interrogate me, and I refused.
I was beaten on the third day, after refusing to talk on the first and the second day. Then they didn’t call me until the 7th day.
The interrogator… called his friend, a gendarme, to beat me. The gendarme punched me in the mouth. He kept hitting me, tore my shirt. They threw away my shoes. When I went to the Parquet, I was barefoot, like a bandit.[62]

According to the gendarme’s report, Roger had confessed to having engaged in sexual relations with three men in the past.[63] All three men were summoned for questioning; only one, J.T., complied. He denied engaging in sexual relations with Roger. The gendarmes’ “statement of investigation” charges Roger with homosexuality on the basis that he had engaged in homosexual conduct with J.T. and two others; the following page of the same document, however, states the gendarmes’ contradictory finding that J.T. did not engage in sexual relations with Roger. J.T. was not arrested. The other two “suspects” were never interrogated.[64]

Roger was also charged with “attempted homosexuality” on the basis that he “attempted to have sexual relations with” C.F. The gendarmes’ statement of investigation claims that “The acts of [Roger M.] were not accomplished only due to circumstances beyond his control, including the reticence of [C.F.],” without providing any basis for the supposition that Roger’s intention was to engage in homosexual conduct.[65]

On March 7, three days beyond the legal limit for pre-charge detention, the gendarmerie addressed a letter to the prosecutor requesting authorization to hold Roger M. for an additional 96 hours “to continue the investigations.”[66] He was finally taken before the Parquet on March 9. He recalled, “Everyone in the courtroom started to cry out and insult me—even the judge, Mr. Dairou, and the prosecutor.”[67]

The trial took place the following day. Roger had no legal representation. His text messages, along with emails in his inbox, were presented as evidence. He recalled, “They didn’t ask me questions. When I stood up to go to the bar [to take the stand] it was just shouts and insults.”[68]

Roger M. was convicted on April 28, 2011, and sentenced to three years in Kondengui Prison. Lawyer Michel Togué, who learned of Roger’s case at his sentencing hearing, took up Roger’s defense and appealed the verdict on May 3, challenging the evidentiary basis of the conviction; he argued that “the High Court judge based his decision on SMSs alone, absent any attempt to commit a crime, the petitioner being guilty of nothing but sending messages.”[69]

Indeed, the judgment reveals that the only basis for his conviction was the text messages, along with Roger’s own alleged confession that he had “engaged in sexual relations with several men.”[70] The court claimed that an email found in Roger’s account constituted additional proof of his homosexuality, but prosecutors had provided no evidence regarding the identity of the sender.[71] A confession alone cannot serve as the basis of a conviction, according to the Ministry of Justice.[72]

Togué also filed a motion requesting that Roger, a university student pursuing a masters’ degree, be released on bail during the duration of the appeals process in order to continue his studies. The motion was granted on July 16, 2012, and Roger was provisionally released while his appeal was pending. However, on December 17, the Central Appeals Court upheld Roger’s conviction. Sources in Cameroon say that Roger is currently in hiding.  His lawyers have filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

Cases Pending Before Trial Court or Pending Appeals into Preliminary Matters

Case Study 6: L.I.

On August 28, 2010, a municipal official in Kribi reported to the External Intelligence (Direction générale de la recherche extérieure, DGRE) office that her younger brother, M.B., was being “harassed” by L.I., a village chief, who had “made a declaration of love” toward him. Over the next few days, the officer reported that L.I. was calling her brother “regularly” and that he had offered her brother money in exchange for sex.

Although M.B. never filed a harassment complaint, the intelligence officers decided to trap L.I. They told M.B. to make a date with L.I. and to keep them informed.

On August 31, intelligence agents followed M.B. and L.I. to the designated location, an isolated beach in an area called Nziou, and surrounded the area. According to the DGRE report,

Once at the place, Mr. I … undressed and wanted to commit the act when agents from the DGRE Liaison Office emerged from their hiding place and overpowered the aforementioned, whom they then took, completely naked, to the Liaison Office at the request of the Chief of that office…. After a few photos were taken by the Company Commandant, Mr. I… was authorized to get dressed. Other photos were also taken at the operation stage at Nziou.

The intelligence officials then turned L.I. over to the custody of the Kribi Gendarmerie Company.[73] A report from the gendarmerie confirms that L.I. was forced to walk naked from the beach to the intelligence office.[74]

Gendarmes charged L.I. with “public indecency” and “attempted homosexuality.”[75]

There are numerous due process violations in this case, including the fact that External intelligence officials have no mandate to investigate common crimes, and the intelligence official’s treatment of L.I.—forcing him to walk naked from the beach to the DGRE office—constitutes degrading treatment under the Convention against Torture, to which Cameroon is a state party.[76]

L.I. reported to his lawyer that DGRE agents forced him to undress, and that they beat him during the arrest. His case file includes a medical report signed by Dr. Pierre Ngue Ngue, dated September 2, 2010, which states that he was treated for bruising on the upper lip; according to the report, “The patient says he was beaten by two men on 31/08/10 at around 9 p.m.”[77]

The charges brought against L.I. are questionable. “Private indecency” against an adult is only applicable when the other party does not consent, but no act took place to which M.B. did not consent. M.B.’s own statement indicates that he asked L.I. to undress, and then partially undressed himself; clearly, none of this was without consent.[78] L.I., on his part, claims he was forced to undress by intelligence agents.  According to Togué, “attempted homosexuality” would only be a valid charge if prosecutors could prove that the gendarmerie report states that L.I. “had the firm intention to have sex” “with M.B., but the report does not put forward evidence to this effect.[79]

L.I.’s lawyer, Alice Nkom, submitted a motion calling for dismissal of the case due to the unconstitutionality of article 347 bis. The tribunal ruled on January 18, 2011, that it was not competent to judge the constitutionality of the article. Nkom appealed this decision, but was unable to engage fully with his appeal, as the case was transferred to the Appeals Court of Ebolowa, far from Douala. A hearing in the case was scheduled in Ebolowa for March 19, 2013.

Case Study 7: Samuel A. and A.N.

Samuel A., an adult, and A.N., a minor of 16 years, were arrested on June 25, 2012, by police from the Mobile Intervention Group No. 2 of Littoral, Douala.

According to police records, Samuel A. and A.N. met on an internet site and made a date to meet at Samuel’s house. After engaging in sex, A.N. allegedly asked for money from Samuel, who refused to pay him, but agreed to give A.N. his laptop as a form of collateral for subsequent payment. A.N. left the house with the laptop. Samuel then chased A.N. into the street, accusing him of theft. A crowd gathered and attempted to lynch A.N., but police arrived and extracted him. When they realized that the altercation “was rooted in a dispute between a homosexual couple,” they arrested both Samuel and A.N. Police then searched the laptop, and stated that they found photos of Samuel engaged in homosexual conduct.[80]

Samuel A. and A.N. were both detained in police custody for eight days, beyond the legal limit of 48 hours. According to Samuel, he was beaten by police:

At the commissariat I was beaten by the police, with billy clubs and belts. They beat me because they saw the photos. They interrogated me and asked how I started that, and who I go out with. I told them I wanted to see a lawyer. They didn’t listen.
I was kept in police custody for days… I was kept naked, in a cell with others. I slept on the ground naked.[81]

During this time, Samuel A. was not allowed contact with his family.[82]

On July 2, Samuel A. and A.N. were taken to the Parquet. Both were charged with homosexuality, and Samuel was charged with “offense against a minor.” They were transferred to Douala’s New Bell Prison. Following an application from his lawyer, Michel Togué, Samuel was released on bail on November 6.[83] Samuel said A.N., whom researchers were unable to reach, was released some time earlier. Charges against both Samuel and A.N. are still pending at this writing.

Because A.N. is a minor of 16 years, Samuel was charged with two separate crimes: offense against a minor and homosexuality. Homosexuality with minors between the ages of 16 and 21 is punished with double the prison terms for homosexuality with persons above this age.[84]  Therefore, Samuel faces up to ten years, double the time in prison as he would for having sex with an adult male. Adults who engage in consensual sexual relations with minors between 16 and 21 years of the opposite sex face no criminal penalties, a contradiction that highlights the discriminatory nature of Cameroon’s laws.

While Samuel was in prison, his wife died as a result of a motorcycle accident. He was not allowed out of prison to attend her funeral.[85]

Case Study 8: Esther B. and Martine A.

On February 9, 2012, a man named Philémon A. reported to the gendarmerie that a woman had come to his workplace the previous day and told him to keep his wife, Léonie D., away from the woman’s “husband,” Esther. Philémon A. filed a complaint against “Esther and others” for defamation and homosexuality.[86]The same day, Philémon, accompanied by a gendarme, came to the house which Martine A. – the woman who had allegedly visited Philémon’s workplace – shared with Esther B. The gendarme had two blank summonses. He asked for the two women’s IDs and filled in their names in the summonses, which required them to report to the brigade the following morning.

Gendarmes questioned all three women the next day. Léonie D. claimed Martine A. had defamed her by telling her husband that she was sleeping with a woman. According to records of their interrogations, Léonie was asked about whether she had engaged in homosexual conduct with Esther, and denied it. Esther allegedly confessed to engaging in homosexual relationships with both women.

Gendarmerie captain Jean-Claude Zé Mvélé placed all three women in custody on suspicion of homosexuality.[87] Their detention was in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, as it was not authorized by a prosecutor.[88]

The women were taken before the prosecutor on February 14, 2012, two days beyond the legal limit. The prosecutor released Léonie D., stating that at this point, only Martine A. and Esther B. were charged with homosexuality. They were also charged with defamation. A memo from the gendarmerie to the prosecutor states that for Djuila, there was “insufficient evidence.”[89] Martine and Esther were released on bail and told to return to court on February 16. At the hearing, both women pled guilty to homosexuality charges.

In March 2012, Martine and Esther’s lawyer, Alice Nkom, introduced a motion to nullify the procedure, on the basis of due process violations committed during their arrest and time in custody. The court rejected the motion. Nkom then appealed before the Southern Appeals Court.  At time of writing the appeal had not yet been heard. The two women remained free on bail, with charges still pending against them.

Case Study 9: Joseph O., Séraphin N., N.N., and E.L.

In August 2011, Joseph O. was arrested after B.Z., an adult male, reported him to the gendarmerie, claiming Joseph O. had made advances toward him. Gendarmes conspired with B.Z. to “surprise” Joseph O. at his home on August 16, 2011, “at the moment that he attempted to have sexual relations with [B.Z.],” according to court records.[90]

The gendarmes arrived with no arrest warrant or search warrant. However, the court report also states that they nonetheless entered and searched Joseph O.’s home, seizing “several objects that left no doubt about the aforementioned’ s homosexual activities.” These objects included condoms and lubricant, described by the court as “lubricant for the anus” and “homosexual male condoms”—hasty conclusions given that condoms and lubricant are used by both heterosexual and homosexual couples.[91]

The home is inviolate, according to Cameroon’s constitution, and as noted above, Cameroon’s police chief has stated that the law against homosexuality cannot be applied to individuals who engage in consensual homosexual behavior in the privacy of their homes. However, that is precisely what gendarmes attempted to do in this case. B.Z. was at Joseph O.’s home of his own volition, and there is no evidence in the legal records that Joseph O. attempted to engage in nonconsensual sexual conduct with B.Z.

Joseph O. was arrested and taken into custody at the Gendarmerie Brigade of Yaoundé I. The next day, his relative, Séraphin N., visited the brigade to attempt to see him. Séraphin N. was accompanied by N.N., a 17-year-old orphan and street boy whom Joseph O. had taken into his home, offering him work at a construction site. They were both arrested as well, on suspicion of same-sex conduct. Gendarmes then searched Séraphin N.’s house and arrested another 17-year-old boy they found there, E.L., on the same charges.[92]

The four were held in custody at the brigade from August 16 to August 26, well beyond the legal limit of 48 hours prescribed by law. Joseph O. and one of the minors were subjected to anal examinations by a military doctor.[93]

Joseph O. and Séraphin N. were initially charged with homosexuality and “indecent offense against a minor under 16 years followed by sexual relations,” although law enforcement officials later found that neither of the boys was under 16 years and removed this charge.  Joseph O. was also charged with “offense against a minor of 16 to 21 years.” N.N. and E.L., both minors, were charged with homosexuality.[94]

Nkom and Togué, representing all the defendants, filed a motion to nullify the case based on due process violations including the violation of the inviolability of the home and the ill-treatment of the defendants in custody, including anal examinations and harsh interrogation methods.[95]

The High Court of Mfoundi ruled on July 20, 2012 that there was no unlawful violation of the inviolability of the home and that a search warrant was not required because the gendarmes had “elaborated a strategy aiming to surprise the aforementioned in flagrant délit of homosexuality.” It argued that no search warrant is needed when someone is trapped in flagrant délit. But when the gendarmes arrived at Joseph O.’s home he was not engaged in homosexual conduct.[96]

The court further ruled that the anal examination of Joseph O. did not constitute ill-treatment, and that “there is no evidence in the proceedings that the accused were not given enough time to rest between interrogations.”[97]

The judge ordered that the case should proceed to trial as far as charges against Joseph O., Séraphin N., and N.N. were concerned, but that there was no evidence against E.L.[98] N.N. allegedly confessed during interrogation to engaging in homosexual conduct with Joseph O., according to court records. The sole evidence against Séraphin N. was a claim by one of his co-defendants that he had engaged in homosexual conduct with a third party, who was not a minor.

N.N. was released on bail on July 18, 2012.[99] E.L. was released definitively.  At time of writing, Joseph O. and Séraphin N. remained in Kondengui prison awaiting trial.

Case Study 10: E.F., G.M., L.N., and R.X.

On December 26, 2011, a group of young men in Kumba, a small town in Southwest Region, went to a friend’s house after spending the evening drinking. Another group of young men from the neighborhood came to spy on them through the window. L.N., one young man who was present at the house that night, said he believed the neighbors were spying because they suspected the house’s tenant, who was not present during the incident, was homosexual.

The neighbors knocked on the door. When L.N. and his friends answered, the neighbors claimed they had seen two people kissing, and demanded money in exchange for not reporting them. L.N. and his friends did not have money, so the neighbors forcibly took a gas canister from the house, saying they would hold it as collateral in exchange for future payment.

The next day, L.N. alerted K.X., the friend in whose house the incident had occurred. K.X. suggested they confront the neighbors to get back the gas canister. When they arrived, a group of men locked them in a room in K.X.’s house, and “about 20” of them then entered, according to L.N., while others waited outside:

They started asking questions, “Was anything going on in that room that night?” One of the guys with us, R.X., was 17. They started beating him, and he had to confess. They beat me and R.X. They accused me of spearheading that and corrupting the other ones…. Blood was all over my body.
L.N.’s older brother and a friend then came to the house to intervene, and L.N. went home with them. R.X. also went home. L.N. recounted:
When he got home, his sister’s husband also beat him. He had heard an incident had happened and that we were all involved. He didn’t know [before] that we were gay.

R.X.’s brother-in-law then called the police, who took him away, along with a neighbor who apparently was also suspected of being gay. Early that same morning, at about 1 a.m., police also arrested L.N., along with his brother’s friend, as they sat in the veranda of his house. L.N. recalled,

At 1 a.m. I heard people barging into my corridor. It was the police. They had no warrant. They did not tell us why we were being arrested. We were taken to the station. They took our statements. I said there was not such a thing taking place that day. We were sent into the cell…. We stayed in the cell for two weeks.
So one fateful day in the morning, the police took us to see the State Counsel and told him that we were so-called gays. He asked us questions – the same questions [that the police had asked]. I continued denying…. The State Counsel said he was supposed to send us to prison.
We were taken back to the cell. After three days the police took us to Kumba General Hospital. A male doctor did anal exams on all of us. They did not tell us the results.[100]

G.M., one of the four men arrested, said that when he was questioned, “The investigator and [police] commissioner said, ‘If you don’t sign [the procès-verbal, or statement], we’re going to beat you.’ We all signed the PV. I didn’t read it – my head was just scattered.”[101]

In their treatment of R.X., the police violated Cameroonian and international law protecting minors, specifically the provision of Cameroonian law that a minor between 14 and 18 years should not be held in custody without a preliminary inquiry, and the provision that decisions on whether to hold a child in custody should be in the child’s best interest.[102]

L.N. and his friends were then taken to Kumba prison, where they were tortured by prison warders (see Section III, below). After a week in prison, on January 20, 2012, a Kumba-based lawyer, Walter Atoh, learned of the case and successfully pled before a magistrate to have the four released on bail. At time of writing, the case was still open, but the accused had not been summoned for further court hearings and Atoh hoped to have the case dismissed.[103]

Cases of Arrests and Summonses Not Resulting in Prosecutions

In other cases investigated by the four organizations, law enforcement officials summoned or arrested persons suspected of homosexuality, but did not ultimately file charges against them. These cases nonetheless reveal how article 347 bis is systematically abused.

Corruption and Extortion Rackets

People accused of homosexuality pay exorbitant sums of money to both law enforcement agents and private profiteers to avoid arrest on homosexuality charges, or to secure their release once arrested.[104]

In August and September 2011, on at least three occasions, a Yaoundé scam artist posed as a gay man on social networking sites in order to make dates with gay men, and then turned them in to the authorities. In two cases, the victims were forced to pay bribes, which were shared between the security forces and the scam artist. CAMFAIDS collected complaints from various individuals who were victims of the same scam artist; they found he was working with security agents, including gendarmes based at the Nlongkak, Etoudi, and Melen Brigades, and police at the commissariat of the 10th arrondissement in Bastos.

Extortion of suspected gays in Cameroon can be a successful money-making enterprise, given the poisonous combination of pervasive corruption and the intense social stigma associated with homosexuality.[105] Victims, whether actually gay or not, are likely to pay bribes in exchange for their freedom. Knowing ones’ rights and having legal representation are key forms of protection, to which not all Cameroonians have access.  Eric O. told CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch how he narrowly escaped prosecution after a scammer called Ekobo chatted with him on online, called him twice, and then arranged a meeting:

I met him near the Commissariat of the 10th arrondissement, in Bastos. First he asked for [compensation for] the phone units that he spent to call me. He said I should pay him in beer. I told him that I had not responded to him right away because on the Internet people are not serious and there are scammers.

When Eric tried to leave, Ekobo grabbed his shirt and began to pull him, saying he was in the Marines.

We were in front of the commissariat and he pulled me inside. We arrived in the lobby. He started to say, “Look, here’s another!” I grabbed my telephone to try to call someone. A police officer grabbed my telephone from me. I said, ‘You’re arresting me on what basis?’
The second assistant police commissioner came and took my ID card and said “Bring him into the office.” He wanted to intimidate me, and asked, “Are you homosexual?” I said no. He said, “Weren’t you at the central market yesterday?” I said no. Ekobo had claimed that [another man] and I ambushed him in the central market, and that we took his laptop. He also said [the other man] had made advances and sexually harassed him. I said, “I’ve never seen this guy before.”

Eric O. spent the night at the police commissariat. The next day, he called a lawyer who came to the commissariat and told police they had no basis to hold Eric O. After several hours of interrogation, the investigator agreed to release Eric O., who told CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch that had he not insisted on his rights or known a lawyer to call, he might be in prison today or have had to pay a bribe for his freedom. [106]

Alec S. told Human Rights Watch that his friend, Joseph P., was arrested by gendarmes in Limbe after being set up by a man with whom he had made a date. Gendarmes from the Rapid Intervention Battalion (Bataillon d’intervention rapide, BIR) showed up at the house and found Joseph P. naked. They took snapshots of him and took him into custody. Alec received news of the arrest and went to the brigade in Bota quarter. He recounted,

I went … to try to release him. We talked to them. They said it’s a crime, homosexuality is not accepted in Cameroon, and that they had photos…. The investigator asked for 100,000 [$200]. We raised 70,000 [$140]. We gave it to him and he released [my friend].[107]

Male sex workers are particularly vulnerable to extortion from law enforcement officials. Sex work is criminalized in Cameroon and police frequently round up both male and female sex workers, but according to Aids Acodev, an organization that represents sex workers of both sexes, men tend to be treated more harshly by the authorities.[108] One male sex worker told Human Rights Watch that in mid-2010, police burst into a room at a guesthouse and forced him and his male client to pay them 800,000 CFA francs [$1,600].

Extortion not only involves direct demands for money. In February 2012, a young man was turned in to the police in Douala’s 12th arrondissement by a man he had agreed to meet after chatting on the internet. In exchange for his release, police forced him to give interviews to three television channels in which he falsely claimed that Alternatives-Cameroun had “recruited” him into homosexuality. After this incident, Alternatives-Cameroun temporarily suspended its work due to public outcry against the organization.

Law as Pretext for Suppressing Freedom of Association

It is not always clear whether law enforcement officials’ harassment of LGBT people is due to ignorance about the law or willful misinterpretation. But whatever their cause, such behavior has a chilling effect on freedom of association and expression among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

For example, A. M., a well-known women’s football trainer and lesbian activist, used to bring together gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends at a Douala bar following weekly Sunday football matches. She was summoned to police in Douala because a local administrative official suspected her of “organizing homosexual parties,” which the A2 commissioner said was illegal. A.M. said, “He said I should be careful, and that if he didn’t know me, I’d be sent to prison.” A.M. significantly altered her activities because of the warning.[109]

[23] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Martin Mbarga Nguélé, Délégue Général de la Sûreté Nationale (chief of the Cameroonian police), Yaoundé, October 17, 2012.

[24] U.S. Department of State, “Trafficking in Persons Report, 2012, http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192594.pdf (accessed November 25, 2012); Divine Ntaryike, “Central Africa New Drug Transit Hub: Interpol,” AP,http://bigstory.ap.org/article/central-africa-new-drug-transit-hub-interpol (accessed November 25, 2012).

[25] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Jonas K., Yaoundé, October 19, 2012.

[26] Central Appeals Court, High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou, Judgment of November 22, 2011, No. 1892/COR, on file with ADEFHO.

[27] Central Appeals Court, High Court of Yaoundé-Ekoundou, Dossier No. 11 FD 1347, “Ordre de Mise en Liberté,” on file with ADEFHO.

[28] Central Appeals Court, High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou, Judgment of August 23, 2011, No. 1427/bis/ADD/COR, on file with ADEFHO.

[29]Central Appeals Court, High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou, Judgment of November 22, 2011, No. 1892/COR,” Notes d’Audience,” on file with ADEFHO.

[30] Letter from the Chief of the Central Regional Division of the Judicial Police to the Prosecutor of the Republic at the High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou, date illegible, on file with AFEFHO.

[31] Human Rights Watch generally opposes trials in absentia due to the challenges they pose in ensuring a fair trial, a right that is protected under article 14 of the ICCPR.

[32]“Cameroun: Trois homes condamnés à cinq ans de prison pour l’homosexualité à Yaoundé,” Jeune Afrique, November 23, 2011, http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAWEB20111123163941/ (accessed November 9, 2012).

[33] Central Appeals Court, High Court of Yaoundé-Ekounou, Judgment of November 22, 2011, No. 1892/COR,  on file with ADEFHO.

[34] Décret no. 95/048 du 8 Mars 1995 portant statut de la magistrature, on file with ADEFHO.

[35] “Memoire d’Appel,” submitted by Michel Togué to the President of the Central Appeals Court of Yaoundé, December 20, 2011, on file with ADEFHO.

[36] Alice Nkom, Michel Togué, and Saskia Ditishein, Central Appeals Court, Audience correctionelle du 20 juillet 2012, Yaoundé, “Conclusions,” on file with ADEFHO.

[37] See, for instance, Stéphane Koche, “Affaire Franky et Jonas - Analyse de la décision de non-culpabilité,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoEAxOuFmN8 (accessed January 15, 2012).  Koche points out that the same court that overturned Kimié and Franky D.’s conviction, the Central Appeals Court, also upheld the conviction of Roger M. a month before.

[38]Gendarmerie Nationale, Première Région, Légion du Centre, Groupement de Grie Ter, Compagnie Yaoundé II, Brigade de Melen, Procès Verbal No. 220/2010 du 24/03/2010, “Enquête de Flagrance : Bordereau d’envoi de procédure,”  on file with ADEFHO.

[39]Stéphane M., “Histoire de mon incarceration,” on file with ADEFHO.

[40] Human Rights Watch interview with Stéphane M., location withheld, January 24, 2013.

[41] Stéphane M., “Histoire de mon incarceration,” on file with ADEFHO.

[42]Letter from Aloys Emmanuel Olgane, Chief of the Regional Division of Judicial Police of the Littoral at Douala, to the Prosecutor of the Republic at the Tribunal of First Instance of Douala-Bonanjo, No. 203 DGSN/DRSNL/DRPJL/SP, March 29, 2010.

[43] Human Rights Watch interview with Stéphane M., location withheld, January 24, 2013.

[44] Letter from Aloys Emmanuel Olgane, Chief of the Regional Division of Judicial Police of the Littoral at Douala, to the Prosecutor of the Republic at the Tribunal of First Instance of Douala-Bonanjo, No. 203 DGSN/DRSNL/DRPJL/SP, March 29, 2010.

[45]Stéphane M., “Histoire de mon incarceration,” on file with ADEFHO.

[46] Motion submitted by Alice Nkom, June 7, 2010, on file with ADEFHO.

[47] Letter from Alice Nkom to the President of the Tribunal of First Instance, Douala-Bonanjo, March 9, 2011, on file with ADEFHO. The relevant sections states: “[The court] shall, by a separate decision, rule on any objection taken on grounds of publics policy.” Criminal Procedure Code, section 382(4).

[48] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Marc-Henri B., Douala, October 15, 2012.

[49] Bruno E. told CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch these items had been left behind by friends who had visited recently.

[50] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Marc-Henri B., Douala, October 15, 2012.

[51]Gendarmerie Nationale, Premier Région, Légion du Centre, Groupement de Gendarmerie Territoriale de Yaoundé, Compagnie de Yaoundé I, P.V. No. 315 du 05/10/2010, Enquête Préliminaire; Procès-Verbal de Synthèse.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ministère de la Défense, Gendarmerie Nationale, Direction Centrale de la Coordination, Direction Technique et Logistique, Service Santé Gendarmerie, “Rapport,” Yaoundé, October 4, 2010; on file with ADEFHO.

[54] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Marc-Henri B., Douala, October 15, 2012.

[55] The gendarmerie “Preliminary Investigation” document provides no explanation for his release, nor for the decision not to charge Emmanuel M. with homosexuality.

[56] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interviews, Yaoundé, October 13, 2012.

[57] Alice Nkom, “Note de Plaidoirie,” submitted to the High Court of Yaoundé-Administrative Center on October 21, 2010. See the Criminal Procedure Code, section 12.

[58] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Bruno E., Yaoundé, October 13, 2012.

[59] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Michel Togué, Yaoundé, October 18, 2012.

[60] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Martin Mbarga Nguélé, Délégue Général de la Sûreté Nationale, Yaoundé, October 17, 2012.

[61] Email communication from Michel Togué to Human Rights Watch, January 15, 2013.

[62] ADEFHO, CAMFAIDS, and Human Rights Watch interview with Roger M., Yaoundé, October 12, 2012.

[63]Gendarmerie Nationale, Direction de l’Emploi et des Structures, Service Central des Recherches Judiciaires, P.V. No. 114 du 02.03.2011,  “Enquête Préliminaire” on file with ADEFHO.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Letter from the Lieutenant-Colonel Chargé d’Études à la Direction Centrale de la Coordination et Chef du Service Central des Recherches Judiciaires à la Gendarmerie Nationale to the prosecutor of the High Court of Yaoundé-Administrative Center, March 7, 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[67]ADEFHO, CAMFAIDS, and Human Rights Watch interview with Roger M., Yaoundé, October 12, 2012.

[68]Ibid.

[69] Memoire d’Appel, submitted to the Central Appeals Court, Yaoundé, by Michel Togué, May 16, 2011.

[70] Central Appeals Court, High Court of  Yaoundé, Centre Administratif, No. du Jugement 318/CO du 28 avril 2011

[71] A copy of the email is on file with ADEFHO.

[72] Ministry of Justice, Report by the Ministry of Justice on Human Rights in Cameroon in 2005: “Confessions shall not only be made voluntarily, but the court shall ascertain veracity of their contents.”

[73] Letter from Gwogon Guillaume, Police Commissioner, DGRE, to the Prosecutor of Tribunals at Kribi, No. 0152/L/BL/KBI, November 19, 2010, on file with ADEFHO.

[74] Ministère de la Défense, Gendarmerie Nationale, Première Région, Légion du Sud, Compagnie de Kribi, P.V. o. 103/10 du 01/09/10, “Enqûete de Flagrance : Procès-Verbal de Transport, Constations et Mesures Prises,” on file with ADEFHO.

[75] Article 263 of the Penal Code states, “Whoever publicly offends against decency shall be punished with imprisonment from 15 days to two years or a fine of 10,000 to 100,000 francs or with both imprisonment and a fine.”

[76] Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture), adopted December 10, 1984, G.A. res. 39/46, annex, 39 U.N.GAOR Supp. (No. 51) at 197, U.N. Doc. A/39/51 (1984), entered into force June 26, 1987, acceded to by Cameroon on December 19, 1986, art. 16. According to the Special Rapporteur on Torture, “Acts aimed at humiliating the victim constitute degrading treatment or punishment even where severe pain has not been inflicted.” UN Commission on Human Rights, Civil and Political Rights, Including The Questions of Torture And Detention Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment Report of the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, Manfred Nowak , 23 December 2005, E/CN.4/2006/6, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/441181ed6.html (accessed November25,  2012).

[77] Medical report signed by Dr. Pierre Ngue Ngue, dated September 2, 2010, and stamped by the Gendarmerie; on file with ADEFHO.

[78] M.B.’s statement reads: “When we arrived, he asked me to undress. I refused, asking that he undress first. He undressed and was completely naked, and then I took off my pants, remaining in my underpants.” Ministère de la Défense, Gendarmerie Nationale, Première Région, Légion du Sud, Compagnie de Kribi, P.V. No. 103/10 du 01/09/2010, “Enquête de Flagrance : Procès-Verbal d’Audition de Victime,” on file with ADEFHO.

[79] Ibid. 

[80] Letter from the Ibrahima Iya, Chief of the Regional Division of Judicial Police of Littoral, Douala, to the Prosecutor of the Republic at the Tribunal of First Instance at Douala, Bonanjo, July 6, 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[81] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Samuel A., Douala, October 15, 2012.

[82] Samuel A., “Restitution des faits,” on file with CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch.

[83] Eric O. Lembembe, “Cameroun: [Samuel A.] a été libéré provisoirement,” Erasing 76 Crimes, November 10, 2012, http://76crimes.com/2002/11/10/cameroun-samuel-gervais-akam-a-ete-libere-provisoirement/ (accessed November 25, 2012).

[84]Penal Code, section 347(1): ”For any offence under section 295, 296 and 347 (a) of this Code committed against a person over sixteen and under twenty-one years of age, the penalty shall be doubled.”

[85] Human Rights Watch interview with Samuel A., Douala, January 31, 2013.

[86]Ministère de la Défense, Gendarmerie Nationale, Première Région, Légion su Sud, Compagnie d’Ambam, PV Np. 019/211 du 4 octobre 2011 [sic], “Enqûete de Flagrance : Procès-Verbal de Notification de la Garde à Vue,” on file with ADEFHO.

[87]Ibid.

[88] The detention warrants are falsely labeled as “Enqûete de Flagrance”—the only case in which police may hold suspects in custody without a prosecutor’s authorization—but the women were not caught in flagrant délit engaged in homosexual acts. Criminal Procedure Code, article 118.

[89] Letter from Captain Jean-Claude Zé Mvélé to the Prosecutor of the Republic, Tribunal of Grand Instance of Ambam, N.067/LS/CIE/AMB/2, February 13, 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[90]Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi, “Ordonnance de Non-Lieu Partiel et de Renvoi Devant le Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi à Yaoundé,” 20 July 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[91]Ibid.

[92] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with N.N., location withheld, October 14, 2012.

[93] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with N.N., location withheld, October 14, 2012, and with Alice Nkom, Douala, October 15, 2012.

[94] Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi, “Ordonnance de Non-Lieu Partiel et de Renvoi Devant le Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi à Yaoundé,” 20 July 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[95]They also argued that the law’s status as an ordinance put in place by the former president rendered it unconstitutional. However, the court ruled that the ordinance was not unconstitutional because the previous constitution of 1972 permitted the president to sign ordinances that had the force of law. Nkom and Togué further argued that the legal limit for pre-charge detention had been surpassed; the court granted that this was the case, but argued that this did not invalidate the procedure. Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi, “Ordonnance de Non-Lieu Partiel et de Renvoi Devant le Tribunal de Grande Instance du Mfoundi à Yaoundé,” 20 July 2012, on file with ADEFHO.

[96]Ibid. 

[97]Ibid. 

[98] Séraphin N., however, was cleared on charges of “indecent offenses a minor;” only the homosexuality charges remained.

[99] High Court of Mfoundi, “Ordonnance de Mise en Liberté,” on file with ADEFHO.

[100] Alternative-Cameroun, ADEFHO, CAMFAIDS, and Human Rights Watch interview with L.N., Kumba, October 16, 2012.

[101] Alternatives-Cameroun, ADEFHO, CAMFAIDS, and Human Rights Watch interview with G.M., Kumba, October 16, 2012.

[102] The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states that “The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.” Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), adopted November 20, 1989, G.A. Res. 44/25, annex, 44 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 49) at 167, U.N. Doc. A/44/49 (1989), entered into force September 2, 1990, ratified by Cameroon on January 11, 1993, art. 37.

[103] Human Rights Watch interview with Walter Atoh, February 1, 2013.

[104] Although this report focuses on cases in the last five years, some earlier cases, which seem not to have been reported in published reports, are worth noting due to the severity of the violation. For instance, Harold F, arrested in 2006, told Human Rights Watch that the mother of his boyfriend, who came from a wealthy, well-connected family, paid 1,200,000 CFA (approximately $2,400) to secure the release of Harold and his boyfriend. CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with Harold F., Yaoundé, October 12, 2012.

[105]Such cases are extremely common in Cameroon; Alternatives-Cameroun found, in preliminary research on extortion, that a large proportion of LGBT people had paid a bribe on at least one occasion to keep their sexual orientation from being publicly disclosed. International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, “Nowhere to Turn,” 2011. http://www.iglhrc.org/binary-data/ATTACHMENT/file/000/000/484-1.pdf (accessed October 4, 2012).

[106] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview, Yaoundé, October 13, 2012.

[107] Human Rights Watch interview with Alec S., Limbe, October 16, 2012.

[108] Human Rights Watch interview with a representative of Aids Acodev, Douala, February 2, 2013.

[109] CAMFAIDS and Human Rights Watch interview with A.M., Douala, October 17, 2012.