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Published:May 25th, 2008 08:15 EST
Biya Offers Clemency to Riot Convicts

Biya Offers Clemency to Riot Convicts

By Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo

Christopher Jator Njechu reporting for The Post on Line says;

President Biya, May 20th in response to calls by youths under the platform of a humanitarian operation known in French as ‘main tendue’ signed two decrees.

One of the decrees reduces the prison terms of February riot convicts and the other one commutes the sentences of those incarcerated for life.

The group of youths made the call in a memorandum addressed to Biya during a debate that brought together believers of different denominations, May 8th, at the maison Don Bosco.

The debate focused on perception to believers on February unrest from the perceptive of the Holy Scriptures. The youths solicited the presidential clemency following a series of arrests and imprisonment of their peers suspected to violent involvement in the uprising.

Human right activist, Mouafo Djontou, also known to have led the recent student uprising at the university of Yaoundé 1, ahead of the national day celebrations (20th May) urged the president to free youths jailed after the February uprising.

Advocacy letters were also sent to diplomatic missions and human rights organizations, intimating amelioration of prison conditions.

In the memorandum, the youths abhorred the arbitrary arrests of youths, violations of human rights in detention centers and prisons and the marathon trial in sentencing of youths who simply demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the regime.

Though the youths pleaded for, among others, clemency, food and medical assistance in favor of inmate.

Biya might have had them right by signing decree No. 2008/174 of May 20. The decree remits sentences of those persons whose term of imprisonment is equal to or below one year. And a two-thirds reduction of sentence in favor of those persons whose term of imprisonment is above one year.

The decision which grants them eventual liberty does not, however, include persons incarcerated for an offence committed during the period.

The second decree No. 2008/175 commutes to 20 years imprisonment for persons originally sentenced to death and whose sentence has already been commuted and 20 years for those sentenced to life imprisonment that has not yet been commuted, among others.

Note that the youth group led by Djontu visited prisons in Buea, Douala, Yaoundé; Bafoussam and observed that the convicts were stuffed into foul conditions with hardened criminals, sleeping on bare floor, no medical assistance, malnourished, etc.