Cameroon: Deprivation of Liberty of Mancho Bixiby Tse | WGAD

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Mancho Bibixy Tse, broadcast journalist

Lucie Viersma
Secretary Working Group on Aribtrary Detention
United Nations Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Palais des Nations, 121 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Tuesday, February 5 2019

5 February 2019

Dear Madam:

Thank you for your letter of 22 January 2019, concerning our submission to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) regarding the deprivation of liberty of Mancho Bixiby Tse, and the response of the Government of Cameroon (Cameroon). We appreciate the opportunity to review the Government’s response, and provide further information. We offer the following by way of additional comments and observations for your consideration:

Re Anglophone minority
Cameroon’s denial of the existence of an Anglophone Minority is shocking, and defies fact and logic. Cameroon was founded as a federation of two peoples – Anglophone and Francophone in which the rights of both Anglophones and Francophones were specifically recognized and guaranteed in its initial 1961 Constitution. Some of the grievances of the current Anglophone population stem from the failure of the subsequent and current unitary state to honour the guarantees of the rights of the Anglophone population that were central to the foundation of the Republic.

Despite the non-acknowledgement and denial of the Anglophone problem from Francophone Government leaders, there exists profound discontent on the part of the Anglophone population of Cameroon. It is precisely the failure to acknowledge the problem and the existence of the Anglophone minority that exacerbates this discontent. In December 2016, in a letter to President Paul Biya, the Anglophone Bishops of Southern Cameroon defined the historic political roots of the discontent of the Anglophone minority as follows:

  1. The failure of successive Governments of Cameroon, since 1961, to respect and implement the articles of the Constitution that uphold and safeguard what British Southern Cameroons brought along to the Union in 1961
  2. The flagrant disregard for the Constitution, demonstrated by the dissolution of political parties and the formation of one political party in 1966, the sacking of Jua and the appointment of Muna in 1968 as the Prime Minister of West Cameroon, and other such acts judged by West Cameroonians to be unconstitutional and undemocratic
  3. The cavalier management of the 1972 Referendum which took out the foundational element (Federalism) of the 1961 Constitution
  4. The 1984 Law amending the Constitution, which gave the country the original East Cameroon name (The Republic of Cameroon) and thereby erased the identity of the West Cameroonians from the original union. West Cameroon, which had entered the union as an equal partner, effectively ceased to exist.
  5. The deliberate and systematic erosion of the West Cameroon cultural identity which the 1961 Constitution sought to preserve and protect by providing for a bi-cultural federation. [1]

The failure of Cameroon to recognize the existence of the genuine grievances of an Anglophone minority within the country is evident on the face of its reply. It is this failure that has made it necessary for Anglophone Cameroonians to publically advocate changes needed to ensure equality and to protest continuation of both inequality and Cameroon’s refusal to discuss or entertain change. Failure by Cameroon to acknowledge or address inequality and its refusal to engage in dialogue and negotiation led Mancho Bibixy Tse and other Anglophone advocates to exercise their right to engage in public protests as a means of advancing the human rights of Anglophone Cameroonians. Rights to engage on protests and the accompanying state duties to protect are recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Articles 19, 20 and 21 and guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Articles 19, 21, 22 and 25. As stated by the UN Special Rapporteur on rights to peaceful assembly and association,

The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and not always the most popular of rights for people who are not actually exercising them. But there is a reason that the international community has collectively enshrined them as fundamental rights. They are among the best tools to address social conflict. They allow underrepresented groups to amplify their voices: they give dispossessed people a ;channel for engagement and a stake in society; and above all they allow us to thrash out our disagreements in a peaceful—even if messy—manner. [2]

International Human Rights Law requires states to ensure minority rights and accommodation for minorities. [3] Anglophone Cameroonians have the right under this law to advocate for equal access to the law, equal protection of the law, and for equal rights and access to participation in the Government of the state, and state services including legal, education, medical, and social systems.

Moreover, as Cameroon itself noted to in its response to the WGAD, English is recognized as an official language in the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, as is the duty of the state to promote a bilingual country. [4] Surely this in and of itself is recognition, both explicit and implicit, of an Anglophone population within Cameroon. It is difficult to understand how Cameroon can deny this.

LRWC thanks the WGAD for its attention to this case and look forward to further opportunities to respond to questions.

Robert G.W.Lapper Q.C.
Barrister and Solicitor
LRWC Cameroon Monitor

Gail Davidson,
Executive Director, LRWC

[1] Cameroon: Bamenda Provincial Episcopal Conference Memorandum to President Paul Biya, 29 December 2016 at
[2] Statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association at the conclusion of his visit to the Republic of Korea, Seoul, 29 January, 2016.
[3] See for example: Declaration of the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Ethnic Minorities, Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations resolution 47/135 of 18 December, 1992 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 22001 XXI – 16 December, 1966, ratified by the Government of Cameroon in 1984.
[4] Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon, Article 3.