Five Cameroonians remain imprisoned 10 years without trial [Archives:2006/924/Local News]

February 27 2006

SANA'A, Feb. 25 ) Five Cameroonians remain detained in political security prisons for more than 10 years without any charges or verdicts issued against them, according to Yemeni Interior Minister Dr. Rashad Al-Alimi.

Al-Alimi said before parliamentary MPs last September, “The imprisonment of these Cameroonians for several years without trial is a big mistake. These prisoners faced charges of money laundering and drug trafficking. They could have been referred to prosecution and the judiciary at the time of their capture. Political security was not the right place for them.”

Parliament summoned Al-Alimi to discuss the issue who then confessed that the Cameroonians have been imprisoned since 1995. It was late when Al-Alimi learned of their imprisonment; then he undertook to bring them to the judiciary along with reasons for their detention with other prisoners at political security, MP Ali Ashal told the media Saturday. He said such lengthy imprisonment without trial is a shame and an unjustifiable injustice.

Ashal added that they only learned about the fact after prisoners sent a letter to MPs, the HOOD organization and other civil community, human rights and freedom organizations to intervene in their case.

A HOOD spokesman said Saturday that his organization received a letter in August 2004 signed by four Cameroonians jailed at political security. They mentioned that they had been jailed since March 1995 and that no one had visited them nor did any of their relatives know about them. He said his organization tried to see them but political security refused to allow any HOOD staffers to meet with them or view their files.

The spokesman noted that the British Embassy, considered head of the commonwealth of which Cameroon is a member, has been following up their case since it discovered their imprisonment, but the embassy has not reported any results.

Due to media silencing and lack of information about why the Cameroonians were imprisoned, media sources mentioned that the prisoners may number six or seven, not five, as Al-Alimi said. Some of the prisoners also hold French citizenship.

The Cameroonians had been trafficking banned arms, dealing with Yemeni traffickers to pass arms between Yemen and African countries. Other sources stated that they, along with some influential Yemenis, were forging currencies that spread in 1993 and before.