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Three Human Rights organization demand release of 3 Students jailed for 10 years over Boko Haram joke

26 September 2017 No Comment

By Mbonge Peter
Three Human Rights organization have jointly issued a Press Release demanding the unconditional release of three students who were jailed for 10 years each by the Military Court in Yaounde for a Boko Haram joke.
The groups have called on the Cameroon government to release the students who are still very young so that they can continue their educational pursuit and contribute to nation building in their own way. They were confident an appeal against the military verdict is finally being heard and prayed the youngsters should be released.
Many people who spoke to The Star said the children should be pardoned as they did not know the gravity of the joke. They blamed the teacher who reported them for taking up the matter instead of advising and warning the students. “A teacher should teach the students everything they need to know, not to hand them to justice for offences that could have been corrected”, one of them said.

Joint Press Release

Cameroon: Three Human Rights organizations demand release of Students sentenced to 10 years over Boko Haram joke. Authorities in Cameroon should drop all charges and release three students each sentenced to 10 years in prison for sharing a joke via SMS about Boko Haram, Amnesty International, the Réseau des défenseurs des droits humains en Afrique centrale(REDHAC) and Nouveaux droits de l’homme (NDH) Cameroun said today.
The start of the hearings in the appeal of Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob, all younger than 30 years old, is on in Yaoundé after several delays. The three students were found guilty of ‘non-denunciation of terrorism acts” by a military court on November 2, 2016.
“Rather than languishing in prison simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression, these three students should have been playing a valuable role in Cameroonian society,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Lake Chad Researcher.
“Today’s appeal is an opportunity for the authorities to show the world their commitment to righting this injustice by immediately and unconditionally releasing these three students.”
In December 2014, Fomusoh Ivo received a text message from a friend, saying: “Boko Haram recruits young people from 14 years old and above. Conditions for recruitment: 4 subjects at GCE, including religion”.
His friend’s message was intended as a comment on the difficulty of finding a good job without being highly qualified – joking that even the armed group Boko Haram won’t recruit you without good exam results.
Ivo forwarded the message to Afuh Nivelle Nfor, who sent it to Azah Levis Gob. One of their teachers saw the text, having confiscated the phone, and showed it to the police. Ivo and his friends were all arrested. They were transferred to the Prison in Yaoundé on January 14, 2015 and kept with their legs chained at the ankles.
“These three students should never have been arrested in the first instance as they have only exercised their right to freedom of expression,” said Ngo Mbe Maximilienne, Executive director of REDHAC.
The three were charged under the Cameroonian Penal Code and Cameroonian Military Code on March 3, 2015. “A sarcastic SMS cannot possibly constitute grounds for imprisonment. These students do not belong behind bars and must be allowed to continue their lives without further delay,” said Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Executive director NDH Cameroun.
The organizations call on Cameroonian authorities to also release other individuals detained on spurious charges related to national security, such as Ahmed Abba, a Journalist for Radio France Internationale’s Hausa service, who is in jail for simply exercising his right to freedom of expression. Aboubakar Siddiki, leader of the political party Mouvement patriotique du salut camerounais, and Abdoulaye Harissou, a well-known notary have also been in detention for more than three years.
Sadibou MARONG
                                                                                                                               Regional Media Manager
Amnesty International West and Central Africa Office

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