21 December 2017

Cameroon: Radio France Internationale Journalist's 10-year Sentence Quashed

press release

In response to today’s Appeal Chamber of the Military Court ruling quashing the 10 year sentence of Radio France International journalist Ahmed Abba, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International’s Lake Chad researcher said:

“This ruling is a victory for Ahmed Abba, who has been detained for more than two years simply for doing his job as a journalist. His release is a huge relief for him and his family, as well as all those who mobilized themselves tirelessly on his behalf since 2015.

“It is days like this that offer a glimmer of hope to other people detained without legitimate reason as part of the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram in Cameroon that they may too receive justice.

“The Cameroonian authorities now have the opportunity to change their approach. They must stop arbitrarily arresting civilians and halt their brutal crackdown on people’s human rights.’’

Background:

Today, the Appeal Court of the Yaoundé Military Tribunal quashed Ahmed Abba’s 10-year prison sentence on charges of "non-denunciation of terrorism" and "laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts."

It has consequently ordered his initial sentence to be reduced to 24 months-which he has already served. The Court acquitted him of “laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts" but upheld "non-denunciation of terrorism".

Abba a journalist for Radio France Internationale's Hausa service was arrested on 30 July 2015 in the city of Maroua while investigating the conflict with Boko Haram in the north of the country. He was held incommunicado for three months and tortured in a facility run by Cameroonian secret services.  His trial began at Yaoundé military court on 29 February 2016.  He was sentenced on 24 April 2016 after having been convicted on 20 April. He was also fined 84,000 euros.

Amnesty International considers that Ahmed Abba’s should have never been arrested in the first instance. His trial was marred by irregularities, including witnesses not being called to testify and key documents not being shared with defence lawyers.

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