Over 73,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the release of Wilfried Siewe, a German engineer of Cameroonian origin, detained since February 18, 2019 in Yaounde. Over a year after his arrest, Wilfried who was supposed to have returned to Germany with his wife and two kids is still behind bars.
He was arrested for taking pictures of the ministry of justice, but was detained despite being forced to delete the images. He was later accused of partaking in the January 26 2019 riot at the Cameroon embassy in Berlin, an accusation he has since refuted.
Despite taking part in other legally approved protests abroad, Wilfried maintains that he was not even in Berlin on the day of the riot.
Questions have been raised regarding the motive behind the German’s arrest especially after he was transferred to the Kondengui Central Prison on March 1st last year.
He has since had two cases at the military tribunal one of which reports say, saw him spend six months in pre trial detention.
The German embassy in Cameroon and the Federal Foreign Office have since been called out for not paying enough attention to Wilfried’s plight even after personal information of he and his family was shared online, leaving them at risk of identity theft.
Wilfried Siewe is one of thousands that has fallen victim to the Cameroon judicial system, noted for arbitrary arrests, detention in often poor conditions and sometimes torture. According to Amnesty International, the Kondengui central prison where he is held in 2017 housed some 4,000 inmates though it was originally built for 2000.
In addition to horrible conditions and overcrowding, there are currently fears of coronavirus outbreak n the facility following the death and rapid evacuation of several inmates to hospital over the past days.
With an aim to get 75000 signatures, the petition to release Wilfried seeks to put pressure on the German embassy in Cameroon and the Federal Foreign Office and remind Germany of “the duty of protecting the fundamental rights of its citizens.”