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23.10.2021 04:27 News >> HRW Coitizes Unfair Cameroon Trial; Urges 'Credible Prosecutions' In School Massacre

HRW Coitizes Unfair Cameroon Trial; Urges 'Credible Prosecutions' In School Massacre

Trial of Kumba defendants ‘marked by procedural flaws,’ ‘marred by serious irregularities’

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report Friday the criticized death sentences for four individuals, one year after a deadly school attack in southwestern Cameroon.
"The trial before a military tribunal failed to achieve justice," the group said in its publication.
The court in Buea sentenced four of 12 defendants to death for the massacre at the school in Kumba which killed seven children and injured 13 others.
It was a trial "marked by procedural flaws" and "marred by serious irregularities," according to HRW, which cited "the rights' violation of the accused to challenge evidence against them and to present evidence in their own defense."
Defense lawyers "ed by the HRW reported "the inherent lack of independence and fairness of the process that civilians face before a military tribunal."
They also said the trial was based on circumstantial rather than actual evidence and the prosecution did not call any witnesses the defense could question.
HRW criticized the arbitrary detention of most of the defendants and expressed concern about the death penalty, which Cameroonian courts continue to impose even the last reported execution in the country was in 1997.
"The Cameroonian authorities appear to have imposed a sham trial before a military court, with a predetermined outcome, and resulting in a verdict of capital punishment, which is illegal under international human rights law," said Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior Central Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Yet "the victims of the Kumba massacre have the right to expect a proper investigation and that those responsible will be brought to justice in a fair trial," she added.
Allegrozzi recommended that authorities launch 'credible prosecutions in civilian courts and establish accountability' in accordance with international fair trial standards.
Army spokesman Col. Cyrille Serge Atonfack Guemo, when contacted by Anadolu Agency, said there was "nothing to report. Especially
since the trial is closed."
Cameroon's Anglophone zone has seen violence since the start of the separatist "Anglophone crisis" in 2016.
The Anglophone minority in this bilingual country said it has been marginalized for decades by the central government and the Francophone majority.
They demand independence or a return to a federal state.
Violence in the English-speaking regions in the past four years has left 3,000 people dead and displaced more than 730,000 civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. -



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