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Cameroon
21.06.22
Urgent Interventions

Cameroon: Death threats against rights defender Akem Kelvin Nkwain

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

CMR 001 / 0622 / OBS 050
Death threats
Cameroon
June 21, 2022

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Cameroon.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the death threats against Akem Kelvin Nkwain and his family. Mr. Nkwain is a human rights officer at the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA).

On June 16, 2022, Akem Kelvin Nkwain received a series of phone calls and text and WhatsApp messages from two different phone numbers threatening him to death. The perpetrators sent Mr. Nkwain multiple photos, including photos of dead individuals, bullets, guns and a photo of the human rights defender himself with a red cross on it and a written death threat. Additionally, they sent Mr. Nkwain a photo in which some members of the Fako Mountain Lions, a non-state armed group operating in Northwest and Southwest Anglophone regions of Cameroon, appear. In the messages, the perpetrators labelled him as a “traitor” and an “enabler”, and stated that the Fako Mountain Lions know him “very well” and that they “will come for him” should he fail to “support the struggle”. The messages urged Mr. Nkwain “to buy them [the Fako Mountain Lions] rice and a gun” and to give them 1.200.000 CFA (approximately 787 Euros).

The Observatory stresses that the death threats against Akem Kelvin Nkwain started following a publication the human rights defender made on Twitter on June 14, 2022 announcing the launch of a CHRDA report entitled “Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon: A Report on Recent Incidents of Violence Committed by Elements of the Defence and Security Forces and Non-State Armed Groups”.

The Observatory strongly condemns the above-mentioned death threats and expresses its utmost concern over the physical integrity and security of Akem Kelvin Nkwain. The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time members of CHRDA are subjected to threats and attacks. Between October 29 and November 1, 2021, CHRDA’s President, Felix Agbor Nkongho, aka Agbor-Balla, received multiple death threats on social media and by a voice message on WhatsApp while he was attending a one-week Leadership Retreat in Toronto, Canada, organised by the NGO Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations with the aim to find a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone crisis[1].

The Observatory further condemns the increase in recent years of acts of intimidation and attacks against human rights defenders in Cameroon, particularly since the beginning of the socio-political crisis in the Anglophone regions at the end of 2016, and recalls that several defenders of the rights of the Anglophone minority have been subjected to attacks, harassment and arbitrary detention under the Anti-Terrorism Law, or enforced disappearance, including Messrs. Mancho Bibixy Tse, Franklin Mowha and Samuel Ajiekah Abuwe, who died in military custody in August 2019.

The Observatory urges the authorities of Cameroon to immediately take the necessary measures to ensure Akem Kelvin Nkwain’s security and physical integrity, and to launch an immediate, independent and thorough investigation into the above-mentioned death threats. The Observatory further calls on the authorities to guarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of all CHRDA members, and of all human rights defenders in Cameroon.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Cameroon to urge them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the security, physical integrity and psychological well-being of Akem Kelvin Nkwain, his family, all CHRDA members and all human rights defenders in Cameroon;

ii. Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the above-mentioned death threats against Akem Kelvin Nkwain, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and punish them as provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment and violence against Akem Kelvin Nkwain as well as against all human rights defenders in Cameroon, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances.

Addresses:

  • H.E. Mr. Joseph Dion Nguté, Prime Minister and Chief Head of Government, Primature du Cameroun, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon. Email: spm@spm.gov.cm
  • Mr. Laurent Esso, Minister of Justice, Ministry of Justice, 1000 Yaoundé‚ Cameroon, Email: contact@spm.gov.cm
  • National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, E-mail: cndhl@iccnet.cm
  • H.E. Mr. Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroon to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Avenue de France 23, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Email: mission.cameroun@bluewin.ch
  • H.E. Mr. Daniel Evina Abe’e, Ambassador of Cameroon to Belgium & the European Union, Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Brussels, 131 av. Brugmann, 1190 (Forest), Belgium, Email: ambassade.cameroun@skynet.be; embassy@cameroon.be

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Cameroon in your respective countries.

***

Geneva-Paris, June 21, 2022

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • Tel OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
  • Tel FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

[1] After the 2016 peaceful protests in the Northwest and Southwest Anglophone regions of Cameroon against the increasing discrimination faced by the Anglophone minority of the country were violently repressed by Paul Biya’s government, an ongoing conflict between the forces of the government and armed separatist groups broke out. Since the beginning of the crisis over 790,000 people have been forcibly displaced, allegedly 4,000 killed, and torture has been routinely used.

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