Cameroonian Military Judge Rejects Asylum Documents from the UNHCR: Flaunting International Law to Arraign Accused Ambazonian Leaders by Dave WANTANGWA
Mimi Mefo Info reported the following happenings at the Military Court in Yaounde, on its Facebook Page:
The Military court in Yaoundé has adjourned the case pitting Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, other Ambazonian leaders and the state of Cameroon to the 7th of March 2019.
Today’s hearing was not void of tension. According to one of the defence lawyers, the prosecution presented photocopies of ID cards of the accused which they obtained from the Delegate General of National Security, but rejected by the defense counsel who argued that photocopies are not proof of nationality.
They said only certified copies accompanied with the originals of the document can be considered. They also argued that only a certificate of nationality can confer nationality.
“The defense on its part, produced two sets of documents attesting to the refugee status as well as asylum seekers of the accused. The documents were obtained in Nigeria from the UNHCR and the Nigerian Commission for refugees, migrants and IDPs. However, the prosecution and civil party rejected the documents, claiming they are fake because they carry the same reference number. But the defense said referencing is a francophone culture and not an Anglo Saxon culture. The defense want their refugee status respected and the detainees sent back to Nigeria”. Barrister Tamfu said.
After arguments and counter arguments from both camps, hearing was suspended to resume 30 minutes after for the judge to rule on the issue.
Upon resumption, the judge said: “After perusing the documents tendered by both sides, the Court is convinced that the accused persons are Cameroonians and therefore she is competent to try them. That their refugee status or asylum seekers status don’t give them immunity to stand trial in the Military Tribunal of Yaoundé.”
The defense counsel took the option to appeal the said ruling and the judge wanted to force his way to arraign the accused.
The Defense counsel
for the accused decided to walk out from the Court and insisted that they
cannot be denied their right to appeal of an interlocutory ruling from the
The matter has again been adjourned to the 7th of March 2019, and the court told the accused not to wear their caps and sticks to the courtroom subsequently.
Present in court were
Barristers Ayah Paul Abine and Eta Bisong.
Closed to 100 lawyers were in court today to defend the Ambazonian leaders.
Mimi Mefo Info
A few points are worth noting here as the Judge in the Military court in Yaoundé is forcing her way to examine the case of international dimension and of this magnitude and falsely presuming her court’s legality and entitlement to handle it.
- The fact that due documentation was supplied both from the United Nations High Commission for refugees and the Nigerian Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs immediately puts the Yaoundé court worse of all military court out of the whole show because, the immediate implication is that International law which takes precedence over the lawlessness of the brutal regime in Yaoundé demands that their rights be respected. Nigeria and Cameroon are automatically guilty of flaunting international law, and breaking the law of non-refoulment, which are international political crimes. The Yaoundé Military court therefore forgets that it has to submit its insistence to the jurisdiction of international law first and wait for the due procedure of extradition to be carried out before it can claim its legality to handle the case. As of now the Yaoundé military court is incompetent to handle the case and had lost its title to do so since the political crime was committed by both the Nigerian and Cameroon governments. This has first to be corrected.
- The case has been internationalized by the presence of the EU representatives and others including lawyers from Nigeria, coupled with another case in the Abuja High court and the ICC. This simply calls the competence of the Yaoundé military court into serious question.
- The prosecution at the military court committed an illegality by presenting photocopies of what she considered the IDs of the concerned claiming they were Cameroonians. Would they need to be reminded of the due legal procedure to ascertain the nationality of those individuals as well as their proper documentation? The Delegate General of National Security is not the legal authority that ascertains the nationality of the accused but the Civil Court.
- Ignorance of the whole subject matter or conscious neglect of the whole procedure of the case. The Defence wasn’t arguing for immunity but for respect of the rights of the accused. The judge introducing the idea of immunity was derailing and diverting the focus of the case again to insist to preside over a case that is outside his jurisdiction. A simple respect of international law, would set everything right with this case.