Samuel Ajekah Abuwe, aka Samuel Wazizi has spent close to 300 days behind bars incommunicado. Arrested and accused of collaborating with separatist fiighters in August 2019, all attempts to release him on bail have since proven futile.
The American Bar Association (ABA) however says there may be a ray of hope for Wazizi in the days ahead. The result of a habeas corpus petition that was filed by Mr. Abuwe’s lawyer in November 2019 the ABA states is expected on May 7, 2020.
This is expected alongside a decision on the request for the ABA Center for Human Rights to officially observe the proceedings.
“Since the ABA Center for Human Rights (Center) began monitoring the proceedings, through its Justice Defenders Program, the matter had been postponed on five separate dates” the body says.
From arresting Wazizi without a warrant to denying him access to his lawyer and refraining from informng him on the charges against him, ABA highlights that “the Cameroonian authorities have flouted their legal obligation to afford Mr. Abuwe his due process rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (African Charter).”
“In addition, the continued failure to produce Mr. Abuwe in court raises grave concerns over his welfare” the advocacy body adds. Like many other bodies and rights groups, the ABA believes “… the case against Mr. Abuwe and his arbitrary detention appear to be in retaliation for his critical coverage of the government’s activities in Anglophone Cameroon … [and] fall in line with a well-documented broader pattern of harassment of journalists in the country’s two Anglophone Regions—North West Region and South West Region.”
“To comply with Cameroon’s obligations under the ICCPR and the African Charter, the Cameroonian authorities must release Mr. Abuwe or, at the very least, immediately disclose his location and provide him with prompt access to a lawyer and his family… It is a deep injustice and a gross violation of Cameroon’s international legal obligations that he has been detained incommunicado, without formal charge, for nine months.”
Wazizi is one of seven journalists currenly locked up in Cameroon for doing their job, a reflection of government’s view of members of the press as a threat. Despite calls for the release of pressmen due to the raging coronavirus pandemic, government has turned a blind eye, leaving them at the mercy of poor prison conditions.
Mimi Mefo Info