Sep 03, 2007

Will Justice Ever Come to Southern Cameroons?

The Prosecution is still unable to provide evidence or witnesses in the trial of UNPO Member representative and SCNC vice-chairman, Nfor Ngala Nfor (pictured above), resulting in post-bail proceedings being adjourned for the third successive time.

The Hague
, 03 September 2007 – The hearings of the detainees arrested at a Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) press conference in January 2007 have been adjourned yet again. On 28 August 2007 the proceedings in the case against the UNPO Member Representative and Vice-Chairman of the SCNC, Dr. Nfor Ngala Nfor, and a number of other SCNC members were adjourned until 23 October 2007. The hearings in the case against the Chairman of the SCNC, Chief Ayamba, along with several other representatives were adjourned till 10 December 2007. UNPO is appalled at this latest delay and is concerned about the ability for the defendants to receive a fair trial.   

These latest adjournments are due to the failure of a key prosecution witness, proconsul for Mezam County, Mr. Sombe Simon, to appear in court. Importantly, this is not the first time Mr. Sombe Simon has failed to turn up for the legal proceedings.

On 17 April 2007, Mr Sombe Simon did not appear in court, causing the hearings to be delayed until 19 June 2007. Then, in June, none of the prosecution witnesses, along with the presiding Judge, Justice Julius Nchu Cheo, managed to present themselves in court. The proceedings were then adjourned until 28 August 2007, at which point Mr. Sombe Simon was again found to be missing.    

Prior to the delays in the actual trial, bail hearings had been adjourned on no less than six occasions, resulting in the imprisonment of the defendants for more than 50 days. This prompted condemnation from Members of European Parliament Mr. Marco Pannella and Mr. Marco Cappato, who called for the Cameroonian courts to conduct a fair and open trial, free of unnecessary delays. As their statement from 15 June 2007 reads, they urge Justice Nchu Julius Cheo to “ensure that the trial is conducted in a free and fair manner”, and that “any individual responsible for delaying hearings will be held accountable”.  

There are allegations that the continuous delays are a tactic to keep SCNC members imprisoned and to avoid having to provide evidence against the defendants, thus disrupting any chance of a fair trial.

UNPO condemns the blatant disregard of human rights in Southern Cameroons, and has therefore appealed to Mr. Leandro Despouy, UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Ms. Evelyn Petrus-Barry, Central Africa – UN Sub-Regional Center for Human Rights and Democracy to;


- Urge authorities in the Republic of Cameroon to provide free and fair judicial proceedings in accordance with internationally recognized legal standards; and


- Urge Yaoundé to immediately halt its ongoing persecution of the Anglophone Southern Cameroons community.



Related news stories

2007-06-18 Southern Cameroons: MEPs Call for Fair Trial as Hearings are Delayed

2007-04-19 Southern Cameroons: Hearing Delays Until June

2007-03-07 Southern Cameroons: Hearings Delayed Yet Again