Sunday, May 27, 2012

Defense Counsel Calls for Immediate Release of Detained former Cameroon's Interior Minister Marafa Hamidou

Professor Ndiva Kofele-kale
Below is a  press release issued yesterday by Professor Ndiva Kofele -Kale,Lead Defense Counsel in the matter of  Cameroon's former Minister of Territorial Administration currently in per-trial detention,accused of embezzlement of State funds.


Yesterday May 25th, in the early hours of the evening, Minister Marafa Hamidou YAYA, was unceremoniously removed from his cell in the Yaounde Central Prison—where he has been detained since April 16, 2012—and transferred to the SED (Sécretariat d’Etat à la defense) lock-up in Yaounde.

It is clear that the Government of Cameroon is determined to make an example of Minister Marafa for his vocal outings in the press the past two weeks. However, in its desperate effort to muzzle this ‘detainee of conscience’ Government has made short shrift of Mr. Marafa’s fundamental rights under both our laws (Preamble, Const. of Cameroon) and international law. The continued and arbitrary detention of Minister Marafa without trial violates Articles 6, 7(1)(a) and 7(1)(d) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ratified by Cameroon in 1989), and similarly Articles 9(1), 9(3) and 9(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ratified in 1986). The Government of Cameroon cannot justify these infringements by arguments of legitimate limitation.  

For example, Section 218 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure recognizes remand in custody as an exceptional measure to be taken only in the following well-defined circumstances: (a) to preserve evidence (presumably for a forthcoming trial); (b) to maintain public order; (c) to protect life and property; or (d) to ensure the appearance of an accused before an Examining Magistrate.
The conditions that trigger a remand in custody within the meaning of Section 218 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure are cast in the disjunctive, none of which however, applies to Minister Marafa’s case. One will have to resort to the services of a marabout to figure out how Mr. Marafa’s incarceration in a gendarmerie lock-up “preserves evidence”, for his trial, we presume, or how his continued detention contributes to the maintenance of public order or the protection of life (whose life?) and property (whose?). 

Finally, Minister Marafa is no flight risk and does not need to be locked up in a prison in order to guarantee his appearance before an Examining Magistrate. The record before the public is unambiguously clear that it is the detainee himself who has insisted and persisted on having his day in court to clear his good name and remove any shroud of suspicion hovering over his heretofore unblemished reputation. Why then would he want to flee from his prosecutors? 

In the circumstances, therefore, we call for the immediate release of Mr. Marafa from his detention in line with the provisions for bail set out in the Code of Criminal Procedure. We also call on Government to honor the obligations that it voluntarily assumed under international law and promptly notify Minister Marafa of the nature of the charges against him; and provide him with an opportunity to be tried within a reasonable time.

Professor Ndiva Kofele KALE, Esq.
Counsel for Minister Marafa

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