020 8558 7947
Des Browne MP
Minister of State (Citizenship and Immigration)
The Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SE1H 9AT
October 31, 2004
Dear Mr Browne MP,
Re: Charles Baudelaire Pouaha, Home Office reference: P 1076647
I am writing to express my concern about my compatriot Charles Baudelaire Pouaha. I am Maitre Momo Jean de Dieu, Cameroonian Human Rights Lawyer and Expert Consultant in Human Rights. I arrived in London on October 29 2004 and heard about the imminent removal of Mr Pouaha. I have known his case since I was in Cameroon and I have spoken to him about it.
I am concerned as a Cameroonian Human Rights Lawyer about this case. I have been told that the Home Office is going to remove him on November 4th, 2004, and that on 29th December 2003, at the Home Office's request, Mr Pouaha was taken to the Cameroonian Embassy in order to check he really was a national of Cameroon so that the Cameroonian authorities would issue travel documents in his name.
I am asking you to re-consider Charles' case for many reasons:
1.) He is well known now by the Cameroonian High Commission as an opponent of the regime. This has made it even more dangerous to return him: not only has he been identified as an opponent, but the Cameroonian authorities now know that he is in the UK and could be returned. This makes it easier for the authorities to arrest him at the airport if he is removed.
2.) They already know about Charles' use of a false passport to enter the UK. This is a crime legally punished by imprisonment: Section 205 of the Penal Code states that:
"Des écritures publiques et authentiques :
a) Est puni d'un emprisonnement de dix a vingt ans celui qui contrefait ou altère, soit dans sa substance, soit dans les signatures, dates et attestations, un acte émanant soit du pouvoir législatif, soit du pouvoir exécutif, y compris un passeport, soit du pouvoir judiciaire, ou un acte dressé par une personne seule habilitée à le faire.
b) Est puni d'un emprisonnement de cinq à dix ans et d'une amende de 40000 à 2 millions de francs celui qui fait usage d'un des actes susvisés ainsi contrefait ou altéré."
The falsification of authentic public documents:
This means that, if Charles Pouaha is removed to Cameroon, he will be sent to prison under Section 205 of the Penal Code, without any need to refer to him as being an opponent of the regime. They will just say that he used a false passport and this is true. But how could he use his own passport to escape from the police at the airport if he is known to be an opposition activist? What about the rule non bis in idem? If we consider he has been detained in the UK for the same fact, he is going to be imprisoned also in Cameroon, even if you make a subtle distinction between detention and imprisonment, the result is that he has lost his liberty twice.
3.) The general situation following the presidential election is dangerous for everybody in my country. A civil war can take place at any moment as the principal opponent of the regime, Ni John Fru Ndi, has claimed that he is the winner of the recent presidential election and has called on the population to "assume their responsibility" that is take action to defend his victory on 11 October.
In Bamenda and Douala the Prefet has banned all public demonstrations; the army and police are everywhere.
Fosso Bernard, the president of the association named Liberty and Security for all, has been kidnapped in the night of October 23 at 10.30pm by 8 officers of the secret police (DGRE). The authorities refuse to admit that they have arrested him; neither Fosso Bernard nor his wife were told where the secret police were going to take him. It seems that he has been arrested because he had distributed leaflets against Mr Paul Biya, the President of Cameroon.
Awungjia Blaise, a young boy from the South West province, has been arrested on October 5 2004 by the gendarmes of Songoulou and taken to the prosecutor of Edea, who sent him to prison. He had taken down a photograph of Paul Biya that had been put up as part of the election campaign. He said that he wanted the photograph of the President in order to put it up in his bedroom, but he has been jailed for the crime of insulting the President of the Republic under Section 153 of the Penal Code:
Est puni de l’emprisonnement de un a cinq ans et d’une amende de 20.000 a 20 millions de francs ou de l’une de ces deux peines seulement, celui qui outrage :
Le Président de la République, le vice-Président de la République, la personne qui exerce tout ou partie de ses prérogatives ou un chef d’Etat étranger.
The punishment of imprisonment of one to five years and a fine of 20,000 to 20 million francs, applies to anyone who insults the President of the Republic, the Vice-President of the Republic, person who has the prerogatives of President or a foreign head of state.
Mr Awungjia was convicted of this offence on October 25th, 2004 and the case has been adjourned until November 15, 2004, when he will be sentenced. He risks five years of prison!
Sir, the Home Office can verify all this and consider that if the regime can arrest and imprison a young man who had only taken a photograph of the President, what can they do with somebody who is considered to be an activist and an opponent of the regime? This is especially the case for somebody being removed to Cameroon from the UK, which is considered to be the base of strong opponents of the Cameroonian regime, who regularly organise strong demonstrations against Mr Biya.
The conditions in prison in Cameroon which Charles will be subjected to are execrable. For more information, please see my report attached.
This is why I would urge you, sir, to reconsider Charles Pouaha's claim for asylum.
Maitre Momo Jean de Dieu
Human Rights Lawyer
Expert Consultant en Droit de L'Homme
Membre de Avocats Sans Frontière
President of Human Rights Association APPROCE
P.O. Box 15354 Douala Cameroon
Tel 00 237 996 35 03