No action on homophobic violence in Cameroon

Published: September 16, 2013

 YAOUNDE, 16 September 2013 (IRIN) – In Cameroon, one of the world’s most homophobic countries, not only is intolerance towards same-sex conduct widespread, but murder and threats against homosexuals and rights activists are met with inaction from authorities, abetting the violence, rights groups say. 

 In July, Cameroonian gay right activist Eric Ohena Lembembe was found murdered at his home in Yaoundé. His neck was broken, his feet were smashed and his face was burned with an iron, said Human Rights Watch (HRW). The previous month, the offices of three human rights groups, including those that defend lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, were targets of break-ins. 
 Cameroonian human rights lawyers Michel Togué and Alice Nkom, who defend people accused of homosexual acts, said the police have taken no action on death threats against them. 
 "We have received threats, and nothing happens when we complain to the police because they know they are protected by impunity from the higher levels of authority," Nkom, who heads the Association for the Defence of Gays and Lesbians, told IRIN. 
 "Many gay people have been detained without charge, tortured and killed in Cameroon, but no proper investigation is carried out by the government to get the culprits punished for their act," said Moise Mahob, a member of Alternatives-Cameroun, one of the country’s four gay rights organizations. 
 In a 11 September letter to President Paul Biya, 12 human rights groups said: "The government’s inaction risks sending a signal to all Cameroonians that they can violate the law with impunity if they target people on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity." 

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