Three students in Cameroon were sentenced by a military court to 10 years in prison today after sending a sarcastic text message about Boko Haram. Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob were convicted for “non-denunciation of terrorist acts.”
“Fomusoh Ivo and his two friends should never have been arrested in the first place, as they were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Samira Daoud, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa.“Instead of being in school like their friends, these three young men will now spend years of their lives in prison for a simple joke.”
“This ruling is clear evidence that Cameroonian military courts should not have jurisdiction to try civilians. The Cameroonian authorities must quash their conviction and sentence and immediately and unconditionally release all three of them.”
Ivo, whom Amnesty International considers to be a prisoner of conscience, was arrested in December 2014 after forwarding his friends a sarcastic SMS referring to Boko Haram. He was held in police custody in Douala before being transferred to Yaoundé Prison in January 2015.
As documented by Amnesty International, legal proceedings involving “acts of terrorism” in Cameroonian military courts fail to meet international fair trial standards. Many of those who have been brought to court under suspicion of supporting Boko Haram have faced unfair trials in which the burden of proof is often reversed and people are convicted on the basis of limited and unverifiable evidence. Trials of civilians before military courts also raise a number of concerns about independence, impartiality and guarantees of fair trial rights.
Ivo’s case is featured in Amnesty International’s annual Write for Rights campaign.
More information on this case can be found HERE
Amnesty International USA