Cameroon: Arrest of 17 Men and Women on Sodomy Charges

NO ACTION REQUESTED AT THIS TIME

IGLHRC is concerned about the arrest of 17 Cameroonian men and women in Yaounde on sodomy charges.

It was reported by the local newspaper Mutations and confirmed by a number of independent sources that on 21 May 2005 gendarmes from the Nlongka Brigade arrested 15 men at a night club known to be frequented by gay men. Two young women had been arrested several days earlier. The 17 have been charged with sodomy and all or part of the group remain in detention at Kondengui Central Prison.

Articles 2.1 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Cameroon is a signatory, guarantees all citizens freedom from discrimination and the right to privacy. Furthermore, Article 21 guarantees the right to freedom of association and assembly. In the 1994 case of Toonen v. Australia, the UN Human Rights Committee stated that sodomy laws violate protections against discrimination as well as the right to privacy. Articles 2 and 10 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights also protect these rights.

IGLHRC, working with a coalition of human rights activists in Africa, Europe and the United States, has petitioned the government of Cameroon for the immediate release of the detainees with regard to the sodomy charges.