We recalled that on July 1st, 2016, BaretaNews reported that the United Nations through one of its agencies known as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) made a major ruling concerning Marafa Hamidou Yaya. They declared that Marafa is a political prisoner. The agency ruled that the Republic of Cameroon’s imprisonment of political prisoner, Marafa Hamidou Yaya, constituted arbitrary detention in violation of international law and it is unlawful. The announcement was made at the group’s 75th session in the United Nations Headquarters in New York from April 18-27.
BaretaNews went on to revealed that the group’s findings were first disclosed to the Government of Cameroon (GOC) two weeks before communicating them to Marafa’s lawyer on Monday, June 27, 2016. In making the case, Marafa Hamidou Yaya’s attorney, Professor Ndiva Kofele Kale, had on June 2015 in front of the UN agency defended Marafa’s claims. However, because of a lot of documents, it took the WGAD between November 2015 and April 2016 to deliberate on the Marafa petition before finally issuing its opinion in June 2016
The United Nations body demanded that Mr. Marafa be released immediately and be awarded compensation by the Government of Cameroon for the harm caused by being deprived of his liberty. The Working Group established that Marafa Hamidou Yaya detention violated Articles 9 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as Articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also urged President Biya’s government to take diligent steps to address Marafa’s failing health which is worsening to the point of becoming irreversible.
Professor Kale, Marafa’s Lawyer on commenting on the case said: “The decision of the Working Group vindicates my client and confirms what he has always said that he is innocent of all the charges leveled against him. My second observation is that in as much as Cameroon is a State party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, she is legally bound by this decision and cannot refuse to execute it. Finally, it remains my hope that President Biya will do the right thing and instruct his Government to abide by the UN ruling against it and take the steps that are necessary to bring Mr. Marafa Hamidou Yaya’s arbitrary and unjust detention to an end. At issue here is Cameroon’s willingness to respect the Rule of Law not only in theory but in actual practice as well. It must demonstrate evidence of that willingness by resisting the temptation of aligning itself with those rogue states that flout the decisions of international tribunals and by so doing become complicit in weakening the global/international community’s efforts to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of human rights violations!” His lawyer concluded.
However, the Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary had granted a press conference in Yaounde on Friday, 16th July 2016 to discuss this recent development from the UN working group. The conference was organised to give details on the case opposing the Government of Cameroon and Marafa Hamidou Yaya. During the press conference, the communication boss dwelled extensively on the Marafa Hamidou Yaya, Government of Cameroon case and the report of the UN working group on arbitrary detention. Tchiroma shamefully discredited the report asking for the immediate release of Marafa Hamidou Yaya saying he is not a political criminal as per the report but an ordinary criminal. He noted that Marafa Hamidou Yaya was prosecuted and convicted by the government of Cameroon to a prison term of 20 yrs for charges of embezzlement of state funds. Marafa’s letter to the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention and the opinion of the group is not grounded as the UN working group is not conventional, the Minister indicated.
However, the recent development from last week in the Cameroons indicates that Biya government is considering releasing Marafa in line with the UN decision. BaretaNews have it on high authority that Biya has given two conditions if Marafa must be released. National Telegraph, Cameroon’s English weekly newspaper reported that they have in on good authority that President Biya is considering Marafa’s release on two conditions; Marafa will not be paid any compensation but will instead pay a yet to be disclosed amount to the state and finally should prepare to go on exile to any country of his choice as soon as he is released- National Telegraph stated.
Would Marafa cream of lawyers yield to this decision? Would Marafa be released finally? This is yet to be seen. Let us wait and see how the future holds.
God is still saying something.