Sunday, 7 August 2016

Cameroon Gov’t Refuses Paying E. Akwanga’s 1.5 Billion FCFA Compensation For Torture

Five years after the UN Committee on Human rights in Geneva, Switzerland recommended that the Cameroon government among other things, pay compensation to former political prisoner Dr Ebenezer Akwanga, it has failed to respect the decision of the UN body.

The Cameroon Government, a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, violated the covenant when it arrested, tortured and imprisoned Akwanga and dozens of other English speaking activists in 1999.
According to Kevin Laue of the London based Human rights Charity Redress, and Defence Counsel for Akwanga in Geneva Cameroon has done very little, or nothing to abide by the obligations.
"What we tried a few years ago to get things moving but there is a deadlock. We wrote directly to the government of Cameroon and the President and other state officials copying the Human Rights Committee. In order to get some kind of dialogue going, we said that we thought it was reasonable to claim 3 million US dollars (some 1.5 Billion FCFA) and that we were quite willing to discuss this further to resolve the compensation case," Laue said.
Defense lawyers for the Cameroon government have since insisted Ebenezer Akwanga, who has a warrant for his arrest back in Cameroon, returns to the country before any kind of negotiations can take place.
Dr Akwanga himself is not amused by the long wait to get compensation considering that other victims who also won cases against the government at the Geneva Human Rights Committee, have since been compensated. “I never asked them to torture me. I am saying that if the state of Cameroon does not pay me now, they are going to pay tomorrow or after tomorrow so there is no way they are going to escape out of it. If the state thinks that it is good to keep torturing people and taking tax payers money to compensate them, so be it,” he stated.
In October 1999, Ebenezer Akwanga and dozens of other Southern Cameroon activists were sentenced to long prison terms by the Military tribunal in Yaounde for subversion and armed insurrection, a charge they denied.
Akwanga received a 20 year jail term but escaped from Kondengui prison 7 years later. He was tortured and almost lost his while in prison. Most of his prison comrades died in detention. In 2006, Akwanga was granted refugee status in the USA.
In 2008, he contacted London based human rights organisation, Redress that fights for the rights of state tortured victims. The case was taken to the UN Human Rights Committee that ruled in Akwanga's favour in 2011. In Communications no 1813/2008, the UN Committee ruled inter alia that “…the state party (Cameroon government) is under an obligation to provide the author (Ebenezer Akwanga) with an effective remedy , which should include a review of his conviction with the guarantees enshrined in the covenant, an investigation of the alleged events and prosecution of the persons responsible as well as adequate reparation, including compensation.”
Almost 20 years after he was first arrested for “state subversion”, Dr Akwanga is still suffering from the intense torture while in te hands of security officials.

His wife Agnes Akwanga confessed that he still suffers from nightmare’s, can go for long periods without sleep and is now partially sighted because of the harsh prison light he was subjected to periodically. He was half paralysed in prison and sometimes loses his balance. Redress defense Counsel Kevin Laue says some kind of compensation will gravely reduce the sense of injustice he suffers from. “ If he can get a measure of justice which is what we are seeking for him, that will help a great deal.
It always helps when torture victims get some compensation and acknowledgement from the government. If they get some accountability and some of the people who did wrong and are brought to account, all of this helps because it will make people feel they have not just been tortured and forgotten about,” he said.

"Southern Cameroonians should not give up the struggle to gain their freedom and independence," Dr Akwanga insisted.
The Cameroon Government is expected to begin the process of redress by paying Dr Akwanga some compensation as the UN Human Rights Committee recommended.

No comments:

Post a Comment