Release of hundreds of political prisoners in Cameroon welcomed

By agency reporter
October 9, 2019

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has welcomed the release of hundreds of political actors in Cameroon, among them opposition leader Maurice Kamto.

On 4 October 2019, President Paul Biya announced the release of Kamto and more than a hundred of others detained in relation to the recent electoral process. The day before, the President had ordered the release of 333 persons arrested in the context of the conflict in the Northwest and Southwest regions. Prosecutors were instructed to drop charges against them.

“I hope that this decision taken by the Government opens the door to longer-term constructive dialogue that enables Cameroon to tackle the root causes and underlying grievances of significant elements of the population, who have been feeling excluded”, the UN Human Rights Chief said.

“I am very pleased to see that President Biya is acting on his commitment to look for solutions to the problems that have beset Cameroon in recent years”, Bachelet said. “During my visit to Yaoundé in May this year, we discussed the way forward to overcome the various human rights problems in the country, and we agreed that national dialogue and reconciliation were essential.”

The decision to release the political actors, reached in the context of a National Dialogue that took place last week, could contribute to political reconciliation, as well as creating a more inclusive environment for socio-economic development.

She also urged opposition parties and militant groups to join the authorities in its efforts towards reconciliation, and reiterated her Office’s willingness and availability to continue providing support to Cameroon.

“Cameroon has an opportunity to leave behind years of conflict and confrontation and enter a new era of peace and prosperity, where human rights are respected and protected, and we will do everything in our power to help make that become a reality,” she said. “There will, no doubt, be many difficulties along the road, but if the will to find solutions remains strong, and if the Government abides by its commitments, the country as a whole could and should benefit substantially.”

* Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Pages/Home.aspx

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