PUBLIC AI Index: AFR 17/07/99
UA 128/99 Fear for safety 2 June 1999
CAMEROONAbdoulaye Math, President of the Mouvement pour la défense des droits
de l’homme et des libertés, Movement for the Defence of Human
Rights and Liberties (MDDHL), a non-governmental human
Semdi Soulay, his assistant.
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of two human rights defenders,
Abdoulaye Math and Semdi Soulay, who are reportedly being sought by the security
forces in Cameroon.
On the evening of 28 May 1999, members of the so-called brigade anti-gang,
a joint ‘anti-robbery’ unit of the army and gendarmerie, came to the homes
of Abdoulaye Math and Semdi Soulay in Maroua in the Far-North Province of
Cameroon. Both men were away from their homes at the time. Abdoulaye Math's
house was reportedly surrounded by some 18 armed officers who pointed their
guns at a member of his family. On the following two nights, the security forces
again surrounded his house.
The reasons for this action by the security forces are not clear but are believed
to be connected to Abdoulaye Math and Semdi Soulay’s work with the Mouvement
pour la défense des droits de l’homme et des libertés (MDDHL), Movement for
the Defence of Human Rights and Liberties. The MDDHL is one of the few
organizations investigating human rights violations committed by the brigade
anti-gang, with a particular focus on reports of extrajudicial executions in
There are also reports that Abdoulaye Math and Semdi Soulay are being sought
by the security forces in connection with meetings they had with the United
Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Torture in May 1999, during a fact-finding
mission in Cameroon.
Another human rights defender is feared to have been killed for documenting
extrajudicial executions. In October 1998 Alioum Aminou, a photographer, was
arrested by the security forces in Maroua and has not been seen since. In June
1998 he had been detained for several days after photographing the body of
customs officer Fabrice Habib, who was reportedly extrajudicially executed
by the security forces at Motouroua on 15 June 1998.
Members of the brigade anti-gang searched Abdoulaye Math's house twice in
December 1998, again in his absence. In early May 1999, members of the brigade
anti-gang were reported to have threatened MDDHL members attempting to
investigate possible extrajudicial executions.
Scores of criminal suspects have reportedly been extrajudicially executed in
North and Far-North Provinces since March 1998, when a special unit was deployed
to combat armed robbery in the region. In many cases those accused of armed
robbery have reportedly been taken from their homes and shot, and their bodies
later abandoned. In some cases there appeared to be no evidence that the victims
had been involved in any criminal offence.
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