In Cameroon, TrialWatch has monitored the trial and advocated on behalf of journalist Paul Chouta, who spent nearly two years in detention on speech-related charges, with the authorities delaying his case over and over, including four times because they didn’t transport him to court from prison. TrialWatch has also monitoring the proceedings against Antoinette Kongsa, a woman still incarcerated in Cameroon with her 14-month-old baby, despite a court ordering her release in December 2021.
TrialWatch has been monitoring the proceedings against Antoinette Kongsa–reportedly the ex-girlfriend of a man known as ‘General No Pity,’ himself allegedly a combatant in Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis–since late 2021, through our partners, the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights. Kongsa is still incarcerated with her 14-month-old baby despite a court ordering her release in December 2021. TrialWatch will continue to track the case and will release a further report in the coming months.
Paul Chouta’s case, which was monitored by CFJ’s partner the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights as part of TrialWatch, is consistent with a broader trend—a crackdown on dissent that has resulted in the detention of numerous journalists, one of whom died in custody under circumstances the Cameroonian authorities tried to hide for ten months. In Mr. Chouta’s case, there were indications that the prosecution wanted to ‘make an example’ of him, saying in court for instance that his case “will serve as a lesson to those who use the internet to hurt the image of others.”
Based on violations that occurred prior to and during trial, including as documented in an initial report by staff at the ABA Center for Human Rights, CFJ partnered with Debevoise & Plimpton to take Mr. Chouta’s case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.