Three students sentenced in 2016 in Cameroon to ten years in prison for having « shared a sarcastic text message » referring to the jihadist group Boko Haram have been released, the NGO Amnesty International announced on Monday (December 27th).
Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob, detained since January 14, 2015, had been found guilty by a military court of « non-denunciation of terrorist acts » on November 2, 2016. « These three students, who did not ‘ made that the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression should never have been arrested to begin with. The Cameroonian authorities must protect human rights and ensure that everyone can express themselves freely without fear of reprisals, ”the NGO wrote in a statement, adding that they“ left prison this weekend ”. For Amnesty, the three students were « punished against all logic simply for having shared a joke on their phone ».
The three young students shared a message linked to the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, which carried out numerous attacks in the far north of Cameroon. « This message was actually an observation on the difficulty of finding a decent job without being highly qualified and played on the idea that even the armed group Boko Haram only recruited people who had obtained good results in their exams, » noted Amnesty in its press release.
Their release follows the Supreme Court’s decision to reduce the three students’ sentences from ten to five years in prison. The NGO had petitioned President Paul Biya, 88 years old, including 39 years at the head of the country, for the release of the three students who had collected some 310,000 signatures.