Paul E Kingue ,CPDM Mayor of Njombe-Penja

The government of Cameroon has been ordered by the UN Human Rights Court to pay a sum of  7 billion Fcfa to compensate  the CPDM Mayor of Njombe-Penja for 8 years of illegal and arbitrary detention on the orders of a French company Plantations du Haut Penja(PHP).

In the decision of  which alafnet.com has a copy, the largest judicial body in the field of human rights in the world notified the State of Cameroon today 26th of November ,2016 of the  decision .

Cameroon has no alternative but to make the payment within  180 days ,According to the finally verdict which is not subject to appeal, the government is compelled to pay the sum of 7 billions Fcfa from the 23 initially requested.In the case of unlawful detention of Paul Eric Kingue against the West African State

alafnet.com notes that ,Same court had  ruled favourably on albert Mukong, Gorji Dink, Ebernerzer Awkwanga against Cameroon, The regime paid Albert Mukong about 100 million frs.UN Human Rights Committee, a United Nations treaty body, differs from the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

Recall that in a huge victory for corruption fighters in Cameroon in particular, Paul Eric Kingue was released from prison on the 16th of july,2015 after more than seven years of unlawful imprisonment in the Nkongsamba and Douala prisons. His crime: denouncing a French-owned banana producing company for allegedly not paying tax on its operations in Njombé-Penja, thereby depriving a poor region of much-needed funds for development. It is also alleged that PHP uses pesticides banned in Europe, causing damage to both the health of its workers and the land.

In 2007 Kingue accused the Cameroon-based branch of French banana producer Plantations du Haut Penja of tax fraud. After demonstrations in Njombe-Penja, the district in West Cameroon where he was elected mayor, Kingue was arrested in February 2008 and charged with orchestrating the protests.

His case came to the attention of Transparency International Cameroon‘s Anti-Corruption Legal Advice Centre while he was in prison. Numerous human rights organisations and other international organisations have been pushing for this freedom since his imprisonment. Transparency International Cameroon published a report last year backing his accusations and highlighting how his prosecution was completely flawed and appeared to be in retaliation his accusations.

In August  2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published an opinion stating that a number of procedural guarantees were not applied in Kingue’s case, questioning the independence of the judiciary and obliging the government to ensure the release and compensation of Kingue.

As a result of this the public prosecutor dropped the charges against him early this year. In the last hearing that took place on 18 June, Kingue was supposed to be released. But the judge adjourned the case on what can only be described as a technicality, finally releasing him a month later.

Transparency International Cameroon, through its Anti-Corruption Legal Advice Centre, has been investigating allegations of bad business practices made against Plantations du Haut Penja, a company that runs a number of banana plantations in Njombé-Penja, a district in West Cameroon. PHP is owned by the French multinational Compagnie Fruitière.

By Evangeline Sih

 

 

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