Why Are Victims Of Torture Sent Back To Cameroon?March 14, 2008 12:00 am Leave your thoughts
On Wednesday, Londoners gathered at Parliament Square to protest against the deportation of London graduate Guy Njike back to Cameroon, where he faces torture.
A protestor dressed up as Lady Justice in a white robe and held unbalanced weighing scales. Other protestors dressed up as security officials escorting a blind-folded protestor in hand-cuffs. This was only one of numerous protests and actions the campaign to stop the deportation of Guy Njike has organized since he was first arrested on 11 February.
Last week, students at University College London at their student union AGM voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion to Stop the Deportation of Guy. Television comedian Mark Thomas has also expressed his support and signed a petition to the Home Secretary to stop the deportation. The petition has so far gathered over 1,800 signatures.
The effort to deport Guy back to Cameroon is not the only attempt by the Home Office to send victims of torture, who are seeking refuge in the UK, back to an increasingly deteriorating human rights situation in Cameroon.
Bruno Mejiako Tcheuleu, who was also tortured and imprisoned in Cameroon, is facing deportation this Monday, 17th March. He is currently detained in Dover Immigration Removal Centre. Bruno has not yet had a chance to see his daughter Tcheuleu, born on the 2nd January 2008 in London, as he was arrested when his partner was five months pregnant. If Bruno is deported on Monday he might never see his family again.
In recent weeks Cameroon has seen an escalation of violence. Riots broke out in the economic centre Douala in the west of Cameroon on 25th February, and reached the capital YaoundÃ© and other cities. People protested against rising fuel and food prices as well as the attempt by President Paul Biya to change the constitution in order to participate in the 2011 elections. Officials in Cameroon say that 24 people were killed in the riots, however human rights groups say the death toll is much higher.
Liam Byrne, Minister of State for Borders and Immigration, seems to have no plans to stop deportations to Cameroon. When asked about reviewing the deportation policies to Cameroon by Labour MP Kerry McCarthy in Parliament on 4th March, Byrne said that his agency “enforces the removal of Cameroonian nationals who we are satisfied are not in need of protection.”
Just how much can we trust the Home Office to get such a crucial matter as the protection of victims of torture right? On 10th March the Guardian revealed that another torture-survivor from Cameroon is now receiving £15,000 in compensation for unlawful detention by the immigration authorities. The woman, who can only be identified as PB, had suffered torture in Cameroon, including being kicked, slapped and beaten with electric cables. Yet on arriving in the UK she was detained, denied adequate treatment and had her claim for asylum rejected. It took a Judicial Review to bring this outrageous treatment of PB by the immigration authorities to light and get the decision to deport her overturned.
One day after PB’s case was revealed on 11th March the US State Department published a report on Cameroon stating that the government’s human rights record remained poor, and it continued to commit numerous human rights abuses. According to the report, security forces in Cameroon engaged in torture, beatings, and other abuses, particularly of detainees and prisoners. Prison conditions in the country are harsh and life-threatening.
Emily Pearce studied with Guy Njike for a Masters in Human Rights. At the protest to stop Guy’s deportation Ms Pearce said: “The human rights situation in Cameroon has deteriorated in recent weeks. It is not safe to deport Guy and others, where they will be under threat of imprisonment and torture. The Home Office tells us it wants to build a fair, just and tolerant society. It’s time the Home Secretary takes these words seriously and lets Guy stay here with us.”
If you want to help with the campaign to stop the deportation of Guy Nijike sign the online petition: ‘Stop the Deportation of Guy’ Petition
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This post was written by Sara Hall