Three men were arrested and jailed in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon for appearing feminine.
The Association pour la Defense de l’Homosexualite, and Human Rights Watch reported that they were returning from a bar when they were arrested and detained by the police because two of them appeared feminine.
According to the two detainees, Jonas and Franky, whose ages are respectively 19 and 20, were in the company of an older man that night when the police assumed they were women because of their feminine appearance. However, upon checking their identification documents, they were identified as men. The police took all three to the office of the Regional Directorate of the Judicial Police of the first subdivision of Yaounde, where they were held until August 1.
The three were jailed on July 25 for one week. A Cameroonian civil society group that has been working on their case said they were tortured and abused by the police during this time.
One of them was released a week later, while the remaining two were charged with “homosexuality” under Section 347 bis of Cameroon’s penal code, which criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct. They will be tried at the Court of First Instance in Ekounou, Yaounde, tomorrow, August 18.
Alice Nkom, Director, ADEFHO, while reacting said, “Police in Cameroon are arresting people for supposedly looking homosexual, which is absurd and also violates Cameroon’s constitution as well as international law. They are relying on a discriminatory statute to punish people simply for the way they look.”
Cameroonian law declares that a detainee may be held for only up to 48 hours before being brought before a magistrate or judge. However, all three individuals were held for seven days before being charged.
They said they were tortured to make them confess being homosexuals while in custody.
Earlier this year, a man was also sentenced to three years imprisonment for admitting being homosexual. There was also no evidence to prove in his case.
In 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Committee recommended that Cameroon should decriminalize consensual homosexual conduct. Cameroon’s constitution grants equal rights, freedom, and security to all persons and ensures the protection of minorities.