Two men in Cameroon have been sentenced to five years jail-time under suspicion of being gay.
Franky Djome and Jonas Singa Kumie had their appeal hearing appeared in court in Yaoundé on Friday 21 September , after receiving a five year prison sentence and were each fined 200,000 CFA francs for being 'perceived' as gay by their manner of dressing and speaking, imposed in November 2011.
Saskia Ditisheim, president of Lawyers Without Borders Switzerland (ASF), said on July 20, that she will send a lawyer to each trial for the crime of homosexuality in Cameroon in partnership with the local Association of Defence of Homosexuals, or ADEFHO, led by human rights attorney Alice Nkom.
“I came to Yaoundé to ensure a fair trial for Jonas Singa Kumie and Franky Djome,”
Michel Togué, Jonas and Franky attorney states:
'The judge gave the highest possible sentence to Franky and Jonas because their vocabulary was "feminine", because they drank a beverage that’s perceived to be something gay men drink, and because the clothes they were wearing were not masculine enough'
'Our country is throwing innocent people in jail just for being different and it needs to stop.'
Cameroon President Paul Biya and Minister of Justice Laurent Esso MUST intervene.
Cameroon is now NOT only persecuting its LGBTs but also those perceived to be homosexual. This violation of basic human rights as per the Universal declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) must stop.
Andre Banks, Executive Director of AllOut.org has said: '"The cases of Franky and Jonas are not isolated incidents -- these are systematic violations of the most basic human rights.
Omar Kuddus of GayAsylumUK recently told David Cameron:
”The time is now for the United Kingdom (along with other governments) to take a stand against African regimes that systematically oppresses its LGBT people, in their attempt to wipe out homosexuality.”
The question must be asked if he and his government have any intention to stand by their declarations.
“For how long are our respective governments going to accept and tolerate the persecution of LGBT citizens in Africa, without consequences?”
Some 41 nations of the 54-member Commonwealth, a British institution, have laws banning homosexuality and many of these laws are a legacy of British Empire laws. It’s the clear duty of the UK, and other states, to act to protect people from this legacy.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the opening of the 21st regular session of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to put LGBT rights at the forefront of the UN’s human rights agenda.
‘I commend the progress made by the Council [in the last year],’
‘In particular, I welcome the ground breaking, first-ever intergovernmental discussion, in March this year, on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.’
‘This should not be a one-time event. I urge you to deepen your engagement on this issue so that protection and dignity truly reach all members of the human family.’
Male and female homosexual activity is illegal in Cameroon, under Section 347, with a penalty of five years in prison and a fine of 20,000 to 200,000 francs. More severe sentencing is likely when one of the offenders is under 21 years of age.
In 2011, over a dozen men were arrested under Section 347, solely on the suspicion of homosexuality.
The law directly contravenes international human rights treaties, which, the Cameroonian constitution states, apply directly in the country.
Alice Nkom of ADEFHO has said
"This law criminalizes consensual sexual conduct and violates the fundamental rights to privacy, equality, and freedom of expression of all Cameroonians," "The fear and stigma attached to homosexuality is such that the police use the mere existence of the law to trap individuals with impunity. And courts convict those accused even in the absence of evidence."
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