Amnesty International has called on authorities in Cameroon to immediately release three young men recently jailed 10 years for allegedly joking about Boko Haram.
The Cameroonian government felt their jokes did not denounce Boko Haram, a Nigerian bred Islamic militia whose bloody and destructive activities now threatens her country’s security.
Amnesty International said arresting the young men for what they said or felt about their society was a complete violation of their fundamental rights as citizens.
“This ruling is clear evidence that Cameroonian military courts should not have jurisdiction to try civilians. The Cameroonian authorities must quash their conviction and sentence and immediately and unconditionally release all three of them,” the group said.
Under the Cameroonian law, civilians could be charged and tried by a military court.
On December 13, 2014, Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob were arrested for sharing a sarcastic SMS referring to Boko Haram.
They were held in prison till January 2015 when they were later transferred to Yaounde Prison.
They were later tried by a military court, which found them guilty and recently sent them to jail for 10 years.
In a statement released Wednesday, Amnesty International says it “strongly condemns the sentence imposed by the military court.
“Many of those who have been brought to court under suspicion of supporting Boko Haram have faced unfair trials in which the burden of proof is often reversed and people are convicted on the basis of limited and unverifiable evidence. Trials of civilians before military courts also raise a number of concerns about independence, impartiality and guarantees of fair trial rights,” Amnesty said.
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