15/11/2010 23:02:26
Unlawfully sentenced to death in Cameroon
Although the death sentence no longer exists in Cameroon, three people were sentenced to death on October 20. Human rights groups have raised their voices in protest.
Radio Netherlands
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The convicted were charged with the murder of one of their colleagues Jean Victor Tchuisseu who was found dead in his office on July 8, 2009. The court pronounced the death sentence upon them. The defense team appealed against the sentence and requested to keep the convicts in custody. But up to now their appeal is without success.

Nestor Toko, the chairman of human rights group "Rights and Peace", protests against the court’s decision which he finds "unfair". Toko underlines that, the death sentence was pronounced despite the fact that the country has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Charter of Children Rights which emphasize the "right to life".

In the streets of Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, people have mixed feelings about death penalty. Bikele Albert, a civil servant, is against this punishment. "People should learn to forgive convicted criminals. Circumstances beyond one’s control can lead any person to commit a crime. Whatever the importance of the crime may be, the death penalty will never be the solution", he thinks.

Young Cameroonian Aboubakar Alhaddji expresses another point of view: "There should be no excuse for any person who kills a fellow human being; he should be hung without further delay".

Ambroise Ndongo, a Municipality agent disagrees wholeheartedly: "Capital punishment does not solve the issue; it can’t discourage criminals. Besides, we notice that crime rate does not decrease in countries that apply the death penalty".

Pastor Ndanza, another Cameroonian who is against the death penalty thinks that: "death and birth are controlled by God; he is the only one who is powerful enough to decide the fate of human beings".

The Cameroonian penal code has included the death penalty since 1967, but there have been no executions in the last twenty years. The last case of execution dates back to the 1980’s. In 1984, soldiers of the Cameroonian military force were executed by a firing squad in a forest, on the outskirts of Yaoundé, after they failed to overthrow President Paul Biya. Since then, there have been no executions in Yaoundé.
Capital punishment is infrequent in Cameroon. The latest case in which someone was sentenced to death was in 2003 when Kinding Yango Huguette Laure, a 24-year old nurse student, injected two children with Hepatitis B and AIDS-contaminated blood.

In 2008, Cameroon voted for the UN’s global moratorium on executions, this is why it is difficult to sentence a convict to death. Nonetheless, the issue of death sentence has been fueling heated debates. "Provisions with regard to the issue state that only the chief judge of the court can request the execution of a convict. Sometimes, the Head of State can grant a reprieve to the convicted. But in most cases, the court commutes the convict’s death sentence to life imprisonment" explains a laywer.


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