Cameroon: Ensure protection of human rights lawyer Felix Agbor Nkongho | Letter

Full pdf letter (EN)

12 November 2021

His Excellency Mr. Paul Biya
President of the Republic of Cameroon
Presidency of the Republic, Palais de l’Unité
1000 Yaoundé
Republic of Cameroon

His Excellency Mr. Joseph Dion Nguté
Prime Minister and Head of Government
Primature de Cameroun
1000 Yaoundé
Republic of Cameroon

Your Excellencies,

 Re: Death threats against human rights defender Mr. Felix Agbor Nkongho

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the independence and security of human rights defenders, the integrity of legal systems, and the rule of law through advocacy, education, and legal research. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN).

We are alarmed by reports of death threats made against Mr. Felix Agbor Nkongho (also known as Agbor-Balla) during his attendance at a Leadership Retreat in Toronto, Canada, organized by the “Coalition for Dialogue and Negotiations” from 29 October to 1 November 2021. Throughout the Toronto event, Mr. Nkongho received multiple death threats and calls for violence against him on social media. Such threats and calls for violence against Mr. Nkongho put his life and well-being at immediate risk.

Mr. Nkongho is human rights lawyer, a member of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association (AFBA), and the founder of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA). He is a key figure in the international calls for protection of human rights in Cameroon and for the non-violent resolution of conflicts involving the Anglophone minority in Cameroon. In 2018, Mr. Nkongho addressed Canada’s House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights to raise international awareness of the need for peaceful and constructive solutions to the serious conflict, human rights and humanitarian situation in Cameroon.

The recent threats are part of lengthy history and pattern of harassment and retaliation against Mr. Nkongho as a result of his promotion of nonviolent conflict resolution and human rights protection in Cameroon, particularly in the Northwest and Southwest regions of the country. We are dismayed that threats and reprisals against Mr. Nkongho have not stopped and have now escalated to threats against his life.

We draw your attention to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which guarantees to all persons “the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”[1] The Declaration also requires States to ensure protection of all human rights defenders against any “retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action” as a result of exercising these rights.

Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council have in the past urged your government to “put an end to escalating intimidation and aggression towards human rights defenders to ensure they can continue their work and NGOs operate safely.”[2] As a current member of the Human Rights Council, Cameroon has particular responsibilities “to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, shall fully cooperate with the Council” as stipulated in UN General Assembly resolution 60/251.[3]

We request that your government take urgent steps to:

  • Ensure the protection of Mr. Nkongho, and all human rights defenders in Cameroon;
  • Conduct an immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigation into the above-mentioned death threats against Mr. Nkongho to identify all those responsible and bring them to justice according to law before an independent, impartial tribunal; and
  • Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the administrative and judicial level, against Mr. Nkongho and all human rights defenders in Cameroon, and ensure their ability to carry on their legitimate activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Morris, BA, JD, LLM
Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Copied to:

Mr. Laurent Esso
Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals
Ministry of Justice
PO Box 466
Republic of Cameroon

Mr. Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh
Minister of State, Secretary General
PO Box 100
Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon

Mr. Paul Atanga Nji
Minister of Territorial Administration
PO Box 13799
Yaoundé, Republic of Cameroon

National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms
864 Avenue Winston Churchill, Hippodrome
BP/PO Box 20317
Yaoundé, Cameroon

H.E Mr. Anatole Fabien Marie Nkou
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Cameroon to the UN Office in Geneva
Avenue de France 23
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Email :

H.E. Mr. Daniel Evina Abe’e
Ambassador of Cameroon to Belgium & the European Union
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon in Brussels
131 av. Brugmann
1190 (Forest), Belgium

Mr. Salomon Azoh-Mbi Anu’a-Gheyle
High Commissioner, High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon in Canada
170 Clemow Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1S 2B4

Hon. Mélanie Joly
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada
House of Commons Office
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada K1A 0A6

Mr. Richard Bale
High Commissioner, High Commission of Canada in Cameroon
PO Box 572
Yaoundé, Cameroon

Ms. Mary Lawlor
Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
Palais des Nations
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Email: ;

Ms. Irene Khan
Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Palais des Nations
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Dr. Fernand de Varennes RP
Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
31 Bijilo Annex Layout, Kombo North District Western Region
PO Box 673
The Gambia

[1] UN General Assembly, Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: resolution, 8 March 1999, A/RES/53/144, see, particularly Article 12, available at: The Declaration, while not in itself a binding instrument, is based on human rights standards enshrined in other international instruments that are legally binding, including the ICCPR. The Declaration was adopted by consensus of the General Assembly and thus represents a unanimous commitment by States to its implementation.

[2] UN OHCHR, Cameroon must protect human rights defenders – UN experts, 28 April 2020,

[3] UN General Assembly, Human Rights Council : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 3 April 2006, A/RES/60/251, available at: