Cameroon Stifling Freedom of Association
A workshop held on March 27 by SID’ADO (YOUTH AGAINST HIV/AIDS), a registered Cameroonian civic organization, focusing on human rights and sexual orientation was interrupted by demonstrators who declared that homosexuality is illegal in Cameroon and that the meeting would not take place. It was reported that Cameroonian officials actively joined the demonstrations and effectively shut down the workshop despite having previously allowed the group to register the event. Public officials must allow groups such as SID’ADO to freely hold meetings without fear of disruption. One of the SID’ADO’s primary organizers was arrested and released after several hours of questioning. The police assured him that the prosecutor’s office would be following up with the case.
Cameroon, which is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2012, has a long history of restricting the space for the public gatherings, civic activism and political organization, particularly in regards to issues that involve sexual orientation. In contradiction to its commitment to international human rights instruments, civic groups must receive government permission to hold public meetings in most major jurisdictions. The government often refuses to grant permission on the unspecified groups of preserving order – and in some cases provides no explanation at all for refusing permission.