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Cameroon: Fear of refoulement / legal concern:

, Index number: AFR 17/028/1997

Alfonso Mba Nsogo Ntongono, Pedro Esono Masie, Jose Abeso Nsue Nchama, Fabian Asumu Ondo, Santiago Biyang Nsang, Santiago Esono Osa, Miguel Francisco Eyegue, Angel Abeso, Laban Obama Abeso, Celestino Ebendeng, Juan Ondo Abaga and Bartolome Ntutumu: The twelve Equatorial Guinean nationals currently in detention without charge or trial in Cameroon are feared to be at risk of forcible return to Equatorial Guinea where they could face torture or ill-treatment.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 17/28/97
UA 371/97 Fear of refoulement / Legal Concern 27 November 1997
CAMEROON/EQUATORIAL GUINEA Alfonso Mbá Nsogo Ntongono
Pedro Esono Masié
José Abeso Nsúe Nchama
Fabian Asumu Ondó
Santiago Biyang Nsang
Santiago Esono Osa
Miguel Francisco Eyegue
Angel Abeso
Laban Obama Abeso
Celestino Ebendeng
Juan Ondo Abaga
Bartolomé Ntutumu
Twelve Equatorial Guinean nationals currently in detention without charge or
trial in Cameroon are feared to be at risk of forcible return to Equatorial
Guinea where they would could face torture and ill-treatment.
The 12 men, named above, were arrested on 25 September 1997 in villages in
South Province in Cameroon, close to the border with Equatorial Guinea. They
were taken first to the provincial capital, Ebolowa, and subsequently to the
capital, Yaoundé. They have not been charged with any offence and the reasons
for their continued detention are unclear. They are being held incommunicado
at a military camp in Yaoundé, although their families have not been informed
of their whereabouts. They are reported to be held in a cellar at the camp;
they are not known to have been ill-treated since their arrest in Cameroon.
All 12 men are members of opposition political parties in Equatorial Guinea.
Alfonso Mbá Nsogo Ntongono and Fabian Asumu Ondó are members of the Unión Popular
(Popular Union); the specific party affiliation of the others is not yet known.
Eight of the detainees have already been granted refugee status by the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cameroon and two others are
awaiting a decision on their applications for political asylum.
Torture and ill-treatment, in particular of political detainees, is routine
in Equatorial Guinea.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Two Equatorial Guinean nationals, believed to have been granted refugee status
in Gabon, were recently forcibly returned to Equatorial Guinea. Felipe Ondó
Obiang, a former member of parliament, and Guillermo Nguema Ela, a former
Minister of Finance, were arrested in Gabon by Gabonese security forces on
5 November 1997 and transferred the same day to Equatorial Guinea in the
Equatorial Guinean presidential plane. While on board the plane they were
reported to have been ill-treated. They were held handcuffed for several days
and were released without charge on 14 November 1997. They have since been
prevented from leaving the country. [See UA 355/97 (AFR 02/28/97, 11 November)].
All countries should respect their commitments under international refugee
law, including the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees
and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention governing the specific
aspects of refugee problems in Africa, to allow all asylum-seekers to their
territory, to provide adequate protection and to respect the principle of
non-refoulement. The OAU Convention, to which Cameroon is a party, states
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that "No person shall be subjected by a Member State to measures such as rejection
at the frontier, return or expulsion, which would compel him to return to ...
a territory where his life, physical integrity or liberty would be
threatened...".
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in French, English or your own language:
- expressing concern that these 12 Equatorial Guineans, if forcibly returned
to Equatorial Guinea, would be at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment;
- urging the Cameroon authorities to respect the principle of non-refoulement,
in accordance with their obligations under international refugee law, and not
to forcibly return these 12 men to Equatorial Guinea;
- expressing concern that they have been held for more than two months without
charge and requesting clarification of the reasons for their continued
detention; if they are not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence,
they should be immediately and unconditionally released;
- urging that they be allowed immediate access to their families, a lawyer
and a doctor.
APPEALS TO:
Deputy Prime Minister, responsible for the Interior
M. Gilbert Andzé Tsoungui
Vice-Premier Ministre chargé de l'Administration territoriale
Ministère de l'Administration territoriale
1000 Yaoundé 4, Cameroon
Telegrams: Vice-Premier Ministre Tsoungui, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Salutation: Monsieur le Vice-Premier Ministre / Dear Deputy Prime Minister
Minister of Foreign Affairs
M. Ferdinand Léopold Oyono
Ministre des Affaires étrangères
Ministère des Affaires étrangères
1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Faxes: +237 20 11 33 (if voice, say “je voudrais envoyer un fax, s’il vous
plaît)
Telegrams: Ministre Affaires étrangères Oyono, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre/ Dear Minister
Minister of Justice
M. Laurent Esso
Ministre de la Justice, Garde des Sceaux
Ministère de la Justice
1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telegrams: Ministre Justice, Yaounde, Cameroon
Salutation: Monsieur le Ministre / Dear Minister
Secretary of State for National Security
M. Luc Loé
Secrétaire d'Etat à la Sécurité intérieure
Sûreté nationale
1000 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telegrams: Secretaire d'Etat Loé, Yaounde, Cameroon
Salutation: Monsieur le Secrétaire d'Etat / Dear Minister of State
COPIES TO: diplomatic representatives of Cameroon accredited to your country.
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PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 January 1998.

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