A Cameroonian male, identified by Human Rights Watch as Roger Jean-Claude Mbede, was arrested on 2 March 2011 in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon. Roger was reportedly held in Gendarme custody for 7 days without being charged - in violation of national law which stipulates that arrested persons should not be held in custody for more than 48 hours without being charged.
After 7 days in unlawful custody, Roger was transferred to Yaounde Central Prison. He was found guilty of homosexuality and sentenced to 3 years in prison by the Court of First Instance in Yaounde on 28 April 2011.
Roger Jean-Claude Mbide is currently imprisoned in the Central Prison in Yaounde.
Disturbingly, many Cameroonians are in favor of Section 347, ignoring the fact that the law is repugnant to equity and good conscience and alienates a vulnerable group of Cameroonians - many of whom have been forced underground, tortured, extorted, imprisoned or forced to seek asylum abroad. This conflicts with Cameroon's obligations under international law.
Cameroon's "sodomy law" infringes on the privacy and other fundamental freedoms of individuals, including their right to free expression and equal protection of the law. It's in this vein that Human Rights Watch and two national organizations have written an open letter to Cameroon's Minister of Justice, Delegate General of Security and Secretary of State for Defense, condemning the imprisonment of Roger Jean-Claude Mbide and urging the three leaders to do the following:
- Review Section 347 of the CPC.
- Investigate recent conviction under the law.
- Stop arrests under Section 347 of the penal code.
- Over turn the conviction of Roger Jean-Claude Mbide.
- Uphold the rights of all Cameroonians to a life of dignity and equality.