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Wednesday, 20 October 2010

More arrests of gay men in Cameroon

Source: AFP

Two Cameroonians arrested in September are "currently being held for homosexuality" at the central prison in Yaounde, the human rights group Alternatives-Cameroun said in a statement issued Monday.

The non-governmental organisation did not name the pair, but said they were arrested on September 27 "by officers of the Yaounde I (paramilitary) gendarmerie brigade," in the statement sent to AFP.

Homosexuality is outlawed in the central African country and punishable by prison terms.

"A raid at their home enabled us to seize a large amount of contraceptives and lubricants for homosexual use. (They) acknowledge being homosexuals," the chief of the brigade reportedly said after interviewing the men, the rights group said.

"For further certainty, we called on the chief doctor of the national gendarmerie to examine the genitals and anuses of the (suspects) to find out if these parties engaged in anal penetratration," the gendarmerie chief added.

A lawyer for the two men, Andre Nlend, stated in the communique that "the suspects were not caught in the act. They were not informed that they had the right to a lawyer nor to remain silent. They were subjected to forced medical examinations while they were handcuffed."


In its statement, Alternatives-Cameroun "denounces the use of preventive material as proof of an offence, even a sexual one," and called on President Paul Biya's government to work for the "immediate release" of the two jailed men and to halt arrests for homosexuality.

In 2009, five Cameroonians were arrested for homosexuality, including four who were held in prison in Douala (the main Gulf of Guinea port city) and Ebolowa (in the south, according to Alternatives-Cameroun, which is pressing for the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Cameroon.

On March 26, 2010, in an affair that received widespread media coverage, an Australian and two Cameroonians were arrested by police in the lobby of a Douala hotel. Their trial has been postponed four times since April.

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