January 24, 2012

President Paul Biya
Fax: +237 22 22 08 70

Hon. Minister of Justice Amadou Ali
Ministry of Justice
Fax: +237 22 23 00 05
Prime Minister
Mr. Philemon Yang
Fax: +237 22 23 57 35

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to protest the detention and ill-treatment of writer and political activist Enoh Meyomesse.

According to our information, Enoh Meyomesse was arrested on November 22, 2011, at Nsimalen International Airport in Yaoundé upon his return from Singapore. He has been in detention since his arrest, and is charged with attempting to organize a coup, possessing a firearm, and aggravated theft. Meyomesse denies all charges and maintains that he is being held because of his political activism and views expressed in his writings. On December 22, 2011, a month after his arrest, he was moved from a prison in Bertoua (Eastern Province), where he was held in solitary confinement and total darkness for 30 days, to the overcrowded Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, where he is currently being held.

On January 12, 2012, a military court issued a warrant that will keep Meyomesse detained in harsh prison conditions for the next six months as the government conducts its investigation into the charges brought against him; there is a possibility of an extension for another six months. In the past two months, Meyomesse has been denied access to his lawyer, and his lawyer has stated that he has been denied access to the full facts of the case against his client. Meyomesse will be tried before a military court and could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted. The date for the next hearing has not been set. There are concerns that the evidence being used against Meyomesse has been fabricated.

Meyomesse, 57, is a writer and a politician. He has published more than 15 books on political and cultural themes, including Le massacre de Messa en 1955 and the tract Discours sur le tribalisme. He had his passport seized in January 2011 while trying to leave Cameroon to report on the political stand-off in Cote d’Ivoire. He also attempted to run as a presidential candidate in the October 9, 2011 election, but was denied registration.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Enoh Meyomesse has been ill-treated in detention in violation of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and that the denial of his access to his lawyer stands in violation of Articles 9 and 14 of the ICCPR. We therefore call on authorities to conduct a fair and open trial in a civilian court, to grant Meyomesse access to his lawyers, and to investigate all allegations of torture.

Thank you for your consideration of this crucial matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H.E. Joseph Charles Bienvenu Foe-Atangana
Ambassador of the Republic of Cameroon to the U.S.
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon
1700 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 387-3826

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