Cameroon must ensure fair treatment for detained journalist

The Cameroonian authorities must ensure humane treatment for detained journalist Gerard Kuissu, Amnesty International said today. His treatment must comply with international human rights law and Cameroon must ensure that he enjoys all fair trial rights and guarantees against ill-treatment.
Gerard Kuissu, an online journalist and coordinator of human rights group ‘Tribunal Article 53’ was arrested with three of his colleagues in the night of Saturday, 14 March, in Douala after meeting Amnesty International delegates visiting the country. His three colleagues were released the same night after two and a half hours of questioning, while Gerard Kuissu was transferred to a detention facility in the capital Yaoundé managed by the Ministry of Defence. He should either be charged with a recognisably criminal offence or released. He has been held without charge for three days.

The detention and transfer of Gerard Kuissu is extremely worrying, and the Cameroonian authorities should ensure he has full access to his lawyer, is treated humanely and with full respect of his due process rights. He must have regular and unhindered access to his lawyer, be brought promptly before a court and must not face charges in a military tribunal. If no recognisable charges based on sufficient evidence are brought, he should be released immediately

Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa

“It is essential to protect the freedom of journalists and activists to investigate and communicate human rights issues without fear or intimidation. If Gerard Kuissu is mistreated, or if other journalists are arrested, it would send a terrifying signal about Cameroon’s commitment to respecting human rights”.

Kuissu had previously been arrested and released without charge in December 2014 during a prize ceremony organised by Tribunal Article 53 to celebrate the role of journalism in the fight against impunity. He has recently returned from the extreme-north region of the country where Cameroon is engaged in fighting with Boko Haram.