Human Rights Watch has released a 55 page report titled “Guilty by Association: Human Rights Violations in the Enforcement of Cameroon’s Anti-Homosexuality Law,” which documents 10 case studies of arrests and prosecutions under article 347 bis of Cameroon’s penal code, which punishes “sexual relations between persons of the same sex” with up to five years in prison. The report finds that most cases are prosecuted with little or no evidence.
Visit Human Rights Watch to download the report as well as to read a summary of the report.
Ambassador Robert P. Jackson, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cameroon released this statement to the Cameroonian press as a response to the report.
We commend Cameroon for its ongoing efforts to enhance socio-economic development and modernize its economy, as outlined in the Vision 2035 strategy. We consider these goals to be fully achievable and well within Cameroon’s reach. Just as achieving these goals will be a national accomplishment, undertaking them must be a national effort, involving the full participation of every Cameroonian. It follows that in order for every citizen to make a meaningful contribution, he or she should enjoy the full measure of his or her fundamental freedoms, as guaranteed in the universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As we approach the International Day Against Homophobia (“IDAHO”), we would like to underscore that human rights pertain to all persons, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or other differences, including sexual preferences. Under no circumstances in this day and age should hate crimes, violence, or discrimination be socially acceptable or legally permissible. Imprisoning people on the basis of unproven accusations or text messages violates the freedoms guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A pluralistic society can only thrive when each member acknowledges and respects the diversity within it. Incidents of torture and physical abuse, as documented by Human Rights Watch, are a sobering reminder of the work that remains to be done if we are to achieve, in practice, what we so often propose, in theory: “On Est Ensemble.”