Government to release 330 detainees
Publish date: 07 October 2019
Issue Number: 844
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
President Paul Biya has ordered the release of 330 detainees linked to the separatist crisis in Cameroon's anglophone regions following last week’s talks on the turmoil. Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute said the prisoners had been arrested ‘because of the troubles in the Northwest and Southwest regions’. A report on the News24 site notes that the Premier said Biya sought ‘a measure to calm (the situation) ... while we continue our work’. Armed separatists in the Northwest and Southwest regions launched a campaign two years ago for independence from Cameroon, where French is the predominant language. Biya's Government responded with a heavy crackdown that rights groups have fiercely condemned.
A military court has freed opposition leader Maurice Kamto, who had been in prison for nine months and facing charges of insurrection. BBC News reports that the government described the move as a gesture of national reconciliation. In what was dubbed a 'major national dialogue', the government last week tried to bring together different sides in the three-year conflict in the country's two English-speaking provinces. However, the decision to release hundreds of prisoners has failed to appease critics who say thousands more are locked up on trumped-up charges.