Abdul Karim Ali speaking at a conference in Toronto, Canada, March 2020. © Private

Activist in Cameroon Detained Again

Human Rights Watch | In September 2019, prominent Cameroonian Anglophone peace activist Abdul Karim Ali was arrested. He was held without access to a lawyer for five days before authorities finally released him weeks later. But history has a sad way of repeating itself in Cameroon, where Ali has once again been detained.

On August 11, soldiers arrested Ali in Ntamulung neighborhood in Bamenda, North-West region, and took him to the local gendarmerie station. He was not allowed to see family members until August 13 when, following sustained pressure from his lawyers, authorities allowed his wife to visit.

Ali’s lawyers told Human Rights Watch they were not permitted to view his file and that he was questioned in their absence, in violation of Cameroonian law. While there are no official charges against Ali, he was told he is accused of “apology of terrorism” for possessing a video on his phone showing alleged human rights abuses committed by a Cameroonian soldier against civilians in the country’s English-speaking regions.

Ali’s lawyers said he is being detained in deplorable conditions, in a six-square-meter cell without windows, a toilet, or mattresses. He shares the cell with 12 other detainees.

Arbitrary detention and mistreatment of detainees are rife in Cameroon. Many people perceived as opposing the government are held on bogus charges related to national security or terrorism. Following his arrest in 2019, Ali was taken to the State Defense Secretariat (Secrétariat d’État à la défense, SED), a notorious detention facility in the capital, Yaoundé, where Human Rights Watch has documented widespread use of torture. Ali was held incommunicado until his whereabouts were finally made public in September 2019 when he appeared before the Yaoundé Military Court and was charged with acts of terrorism, financing terrorism, and secession. He was released on November 1, 2019.

Jailing Ali instead of working with him is a missed opportunity for the government, said Barrister Awah Joseph Fru, one of Ali’s lawyers. “Arresting a peace advocate stifles an environment for genuine dialogue,” he told me.

Authorities should clarify Ali’s status and respect his rights. Possessing videos of soldiers allegedly committing abuse is not a crime. Unless he is promptly brought before a judge and charged with a genuine offense, he should be released and allowed to continue his work.

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  1. all this so called activist are creations of aryan impire.they are of no good to even thier own villages. what we need are people with companies capable of employing one to five million people, building new cities providing confort to the masses. not irresponsible people defending fictive ideas planted in thier minds.

  2. You foolish man..
    Where will the money come from to open industries?
    Where will the money come from to create jobs?
    Your brothers from Bulu land have stolen all the money ..
    They have made life easy from themselves and people like you…
    Such activist are needed to open the eyes of the people..
    Such activist are needed to educate the people, open the eyes and let them understand that the country cameroon is a mess…
    I know you are there eating, drinking wine , don perignon and making noise..

    Stop being biased and respect the opinion of people fighting to make cameroon a better place for all..
    People from southern cameroon are used to protesting …
    we are not used to being fooled with beread and sardine…

    • your dependent mindset that result from the indoctrination called francophone anglophone éducation does not allow you to understand that we must do for ourselves.money is not simple pappers, but it is the value, the pappers represent the value. so to have money to build industry we just need to identify a marked, grown what they want, sell and and take the money. in my last journey to Nigeria, they import baking flour, tomatoes, apples, and grape for 7.5 billion euros a year.we can grown apples for Nigeria, take the money and build industries. we can produce cat fist dry parked and sell to Nigeria. the demand is so high in Nigeria. this is how capital accumulation for industrialization is done.

  3. “Activist in Cameroon Detained Again” Mr Ali is a brave to be alive in this amazing technology lense era, where cameroon dictatorship is in spot light all over the world, especially with the ongoing genocidal war declared by the president in 2017 against the monirity English Speaking indigenous Ambazonians. Many journalist,citizens have been arrested by the state, gone incommunicado, kiilled,never been traced, even Lawyers, their families and friends are scared to open an enquiry in case they too disappear, get arrested or killed. Anyone who says french cameroon is a democratic is a big liar,it is a dictatorship, rule by tyrants use of the military brutality, supression, bully, they fool international leaders,visitors,play the international systems it is a peaceful democratic country.