Concern grows for Cameroon human rights lawyer

27 March 2017

CONCERN GROWS OVER MILITARY TRIAL

 FOR DETAINED CAMEROON HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER

The arrest of human rights lawyer Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla in the Republic of Cameroon has sparked growing concern in legal circles as reports indicate that he may face trial in a closed military court.

The Bar Council is the latest legal body to call on the country's President to ensure that the lawyer has a fair trial, following news that his trial date has been pushed back for the third time.

Arrested on 17 January without warrant after organising peaceful protests in West Cameroon, Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla has been denied communication to the outside world. His trial date has now been set for 7 April.

According to the latest reports, he faces charges including terrorism, rebellion, contempt of public authorities and attempting to incite civil war, some of which carry the death penalty on conviction.

In a letter to the President of the Republic of Cameroon, His Excellency Paul Biya, the Chairman of the Bar Andrew Langdon QC has warned that the use of military courts to try civilians in the name of counter-terrorism poses "a serious threat to the proper administration of justice."

The Chairman highlighted the Government's obligations under United Nations principles that military courts should not be used to try civilians, and that lawyers have the right to take part in public discussions and meetings without suffering professional restrictions.

In an open letter, the Chairman has written: "We urge the Government of the Republic of Cameroon to comply with its obligations under international law and to ensure that any trial is conducted fairly and in accordance with due legal process."

ENDS

Notes to Editors 

  1. The open letter to His Excellency Paul Biya can be read here.

  2. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  3. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board.