Cameroon: 'The Charges Have Not Been Made Public'

Photo: UNHCR
Cameroonian refugees arriving in Cross River State
interview

Barrister Ndong Christopher Nveh, Member of the Cameroon Bar Council in Yaounde.

What is the competent court that can try the 47 Cameroonians repatriated from Nigeria accused of terrorism?

The competent court that can try people charged with terrorism is the Military Tribunal in Cameroon. The military prosecutor is the one prosecuting them. As I said, the people are innocent until they are proven guilty by the prosecution and that will be determined in the Military Court. I have not seen the treaty that binds Cameroon and Nigeria on issues of repatriation. The law I know is that of the Criminal Procedure Code that talks on repatriation. That law clearly states that somebody cannot be repatriated for political, nationality, racial or religious reasons.

In court, will the people be judged individually or collectively?

That all depends if the crime they committed was as an accessory (jointly) or they did it individually depending on the charge. Criminal responsibility in Cameroon is individual. So, everybody will stand charges that have been put against him by the Military Prosecutor. They cannot just group all of them and charge them. It is not tenable in English Law. Since criminal prosecutor is personal, they would call them one after another. If it is the same charge, everybody will be read out his charge. So they cannot group them and charge them. This is impossible in Cameroonian law.

As a legal practitioner, what are the 47 people charged of?

I would not know. If I go by radio announcements and declarations, they say the people are being charged of terrorism, propagating false information and others. But then as a legal practitioner, I must see the charges myself. They have not been put before the lawyers to see what the people are bring charged of. They are only being called leaders of the secessionist movement. And now we know that it is a terrorist act if it is true. But now as a lawyer, I still say the charges have not been made public. It is only through press announcements and government declarations. So, we have to see it written down and served to the person who is charged with that crime. Then the lawyers will know. I cannot dictate it now.

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