Cameroon: Mancho Bibixy Tse – LRWC reply to Cameroon’s letters of 24, 27 & 28 January 2019 | WGAD

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Mancho Bibixy Tse, broadcast journalist

In the Matter of Mancho Bibixy Tse

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) Reply to The Republic of Cameroon (Cameroon) letters dated 24, 27 & 28 January 2019


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD)

Re Letter from Cameroon dated 24 January 2019
Accusatory references to Mancho Bibixy Tse in: para. 2 (instigators of deadly events); para. 3 (previously identified as a main instigator for these events); and, para. 4 (exemplified by his overflowing (calls for a public uprising), are not supported by evidence. The accusations themselves cannot be accepted as evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Similarly, the statement in para. 3 of the 24 January 2019 letter suggests the occurrence of criminal acts on 21 November and 8 December 2016 but provides no evidence or references to evidence of such events occurring or of the criminal involvement of Mancho Bibixy Tse.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) report of 2 August 2017 indicates that secession groups emerged and violent acts increased after the January 2017 arrests and internet blockade in the Northwest and Southwest regions. [1] The recommendations made by the International Crisis Group do not recommend the arrest or prosecution of people advocating for Anglophone rights.

Of the 21 November teachers’ strike the ICG reports, “The police and the army violently dispersed the demonstrators. Several people were severely beaten, dozens of others were arrested and at least two people were shot dead, according to a report by the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms the (Commission nationale des droits de l’Homme et des libertés, CNDHL).”

The 8 December conflict in Bamenda is described in the ICG report as the most violent confrontation when a crowd sought to prevent a pro-government rally organized by the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement. During the confrontation four died, several were wounded, demonstrators set fire to buildings and vehicles and approximately 50 people arrested.

Identified as immediately needed in the ICG Executive Summary are measures to:

  • sanction members of the security forces who have committed abuses;
  • release (provisional) of leaders of the Anglophone movement;
  • stop “criminalising the political debate on Anglophone Cameroon, including on federalism, in particular by ceasing to use the anti-terrorism law for political ends;
  • consider recourse to a third-party mediator;
  • immediately put in place the measures announced in March 2017;
  • re-organize government and senior administration to reflect the importance of the Anglophones.

On 30 August 2017, President Biya announced the release and withdrawal of charges against Nkongo Félix Agbor, Fontem Afortek’a Neba, (and approximately 55 others arrested in connection with protests for recognition of Anglophone rights in the legal, education and employment sectors. As noted in the previous LRWC response, the release of others alleged in Cameroon’s replies, to be other “instigators” cannot be reconciled with the continuation of the prosecution and deprivation of liberty of Mancho Bibixy Tse. It is indicative of the arbitrary, discriminatory, and political nature of that deprivation of liberty.

LRWC is not aware any action taken on other recommendations by the ICG. However, on 30 November 2017, President Biya reportedly announced that Cameroon was at war and that he considered Anglophones to be “terrorists”.  [2]

In para. 6 Cameroon refers to as “illegals” Mancho Bibixy Tse and others for taking part in a protest not authorized by Article 3 of Law No. 90/055 of December 19, 1990. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights obliges (ICCPR) Cameroon to recognize the right to peaceful assembly and prohibits restrictions other than those set out in Article 21.

Regarding non-authorized assemblies or protests, State Parties to the ICCPR can require notification of a protest but cannot require prior authorization or proscribe protests or assemblies without authorization. The purpose of notification is to allow state officials to enable the assembly and a failure to notify cannot legitimately result in criminal or civil sanctions for participants. [3] In addition, participants cannot legitimately be held liable for the unlawful conduct of others at an assembly. [4]

The UN Human Rights Committee (HR Committee) has rejected legislation as a mean of legitimizing arbitrary arrests and detentions and concluded that states…

…should ensure that the right of persons to peacefully participate in social protests is respected and ensure that only those committing criminal offences during demonstrations are arrested. […] [5]

The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) recommends that national constitutions guarantee the right to freedom of assembly, “which must be understood in a broad manner consistent with international human rights law; where a constitution states that the essence of this right shall be defined by law, this should in no way be interpreted to allow improper limitation of the right”. [6]

The HR Committee Concluding Observations on a periodic report [7] identified a lack of a domestic legal framework regulating peaceful events and the application by domestic courts of outdated regulations that severely restrict freedom of assembly and are not consistent with international standards. The HR Committee recommended that the State adopt a law regulating the freedom of assembly, imposing only restrictions that are in compliance with the strict requirements of ICCPR Article 21. [8]

In para. 10 Cameroon refers to domestic restrictions on the place of debate, assembly and protest. Such restrictions are inconsistent with freedoms of expression and assembly. Even if protests may cause disruption to daily life, the State must be tolerant and regard them as equally legitimate uses of public space as other, more routine activities. [9]

[1] See “Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis at the Crossroads,” 2 August 2017, International Crisis Group. Executive Summary, at
[2] Just In: Biya Declares War on Anglophones upon return from Ivory Coast 30 November 2017. Cameroon Concord,
[3] Ibid, para. 29
[4] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, 20th session, A/HRC/20/27, 21 May 2012, para. 31, online at:
[5] Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee: Canada, CCPR/C/CAN/CO/5, 85th session, 20 April 2006, para. 20, online at:$FILE/G0641362.pdf
[6] AU, ACHPR, Report of the Study Group on Freedom of Association and Assembly in Africa, (ACHPR 2014), p.60.
[7] UN HR Committee, Concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Ukraine, 22 August 2013, CCPR/C/UKR/CO/7.
[8] Ibid, para. 21.
[9] See, for example, ECtHR, Case of Patyi and Others v. Hungary, App. no. 5529/05, Judgment of 7 January 2009
(Final), paras. 42-43; ECtHR, Case of Balçik and Others v. Turkey, App. no. 25/02, Judgment of 29 February 2008
(Final), para. 52; ECtHR, Case of Ashughyan v. Armenia, App. no. 33268/03, Judgment of 1 December 2008
(Final), para. 90.