EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AFR 17/04/94
UA 60/94 Legal concern / Prisoner of Conscience / 18 February 1994
CAMEROONJanvier DENY, taxi driver, aged 32, treasurer of local section of
an opposition party, the Union des forces démocratiques du Cameroun
(UFDC), Union of Cameroon Democratic Forces
Janvier Deny was arrested on 12 January 1994 and is being held in indefinite
administrative detention. Amnesty International believes that he is being
detained solely because of his peaceful political activities, and is concerned
that his health has deteriorated since his arrest. It also appears that his
arrest may be an attempt by the authorities to intimidate opposition political
parties before local government elections (élections municipales) which are
scheduled to take place in the coming months.
Janvier Deny was arrested in Ebolowa, Southern Province, 165 kilometres south
of the capital, Yaoundé, after the police found on the rear seat of his taxi
a copy of minutes (procès-verbal) of a meeting organized by some teachers
(enseignants de la Fonction publique). Although Janvier Deny denied any
connection with the document, he was arrested and taken to a police station
(commissariat) where he remains in custody.
He has not been charged or brought before a judicial authority. However, on
24 January the Senior Divisional Officer (préfet) of the Department of Ntem
issued an administrative detention order (arrêté portant internement
administratif) on the grounds of incitement to revolt, disruption of public
order and threatening the forces of law and order (incitation à la révolte,
trouble de l'ordre public et menaces contre des agents du maintien de l'ordre).
The detention order was renewed for a further 15 days on 7 February and may
again be renewed. Janvier Deny appears to be held under the provisions of
legislation introduced in December 1990 which gave broad powers of
administrative detention to a wide range of government officials and which
provided no safeguards against arbitrary detention.
Janvier Deny is reported to be suffering from malaria and diarrhoea. He is
allowed visits by his family, but he is not receiving adequate medical treatment.
He was admitted to hospital on 28 January but, despite his poor health, was
returned to a police cell.
The UFDC is part of a coalition of opposition political parties known as the
Union for Change (Union pour le changement) which disputes the results of
presidential elections held in October 1992. President Paul Biya was
re-elected, narrowly defeating John Fru Ndi, leader of the Social Democratic
Front (SDF). There were reports of widespread electoral fraud.
During the past year hundreds of critics and opponents of the government of
President Biya have been detained for short periods, usually without charge
or trial. In March 1993 more than 100 members of the UFDC were arrested at
the headquarters of the party in Yaoundé and detained for one week. Some of
those arrested, including the UFDC's president, Dr Victorin François Hameni
Bieleu, were beaten at the time of their arrest or during their detention.
In January 1994, 11 teachers, members of the Syndicat national autonome de