The government continued to restrict the activities of political opponents and journalists. People suspected of same-sex relations were detained and some sentenced to lengthy prison terms. The government reduced some prison sentences and commuted death sentences, but did not reveal how many.
President Biya was re-elected with 75 per cent of the vote following presidential elections on 9 October. Of the 22 opposition presidential candidates, his closest rival, John Fru Ndi of the Social Democratic Front, won just over 10 per cent. Opposition political parties claimed that the election was unfair. Election observers from the AU, International Organization of La Francophonie and the Commonwealth stated that the election was generally fair, while the US Ambassador to Cameroon said that US government observers noted widespread irregularities at every level.
Before starting a new term in November, President Biya issued a decree commuting sentences imposed by the courts. According to the decree, people serving prison sentences of one year or less were to be released and those serving life imprisonment would have their sentences reduced to 20 years. Death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment. Prisoners convicted of economic crimes, aggravated robbery or murder were excluded from the presidential pardon.
There were several attacks by armed groups on the Bakassi Peninsula, which reverted to Cameroon from Nigeria following a 2002 International Court of Justice decision. In one such attack in February, two Cameroonian soldiers were killed and at least 13 civilians abducted.Top of page
Several dozen former government officials accused of corruption remained in custody, many awaiting trial or serving prison sentences. The trial of Titus Edzoa and Thierry Atangana on new corruption charges had not concluded by the end of the year, although they were close to completing their 15-year prison term imposed in 1997 following an unfair trial.Top of page
Members of the security forces who committed or ordered serious human rights violations, including unlawful killings, during demonstrations and riots in February 2008 continued to enjoy impunity. The judiciary failed to investigate the violations and bring the perpetrators to justice.Top of page
Several journalists and government critics were detained and some released during the year.
Political and human rights groups were frequently denied the right to organize peaceful activities or demonstrations.
The security forces continued to arrest members of the Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) and disrupt or prevent their meetings. The SCNC advocates secession of anglophone Cameroonian provinces from largely francophone Cameroon.
The government proposed to amend the Penal Code to allow sentences of up to 15 years’ imprisonment and large fines to be imposed on people found guilty of same-sex relations. Men convicted of same-sex relations continued to be sentenced to prison terms of up to five years.
The government informed Amnesty International in March that 17 people had been sentenced to death during 2010. The authorities said that all had appealed against their sentences but gave no further information about death sentences during 2011.
A presidential decree issued on 3 November commuted death penalty sentences to life imprisonment. However, the decree excluded those who had been convicted of murder or aggravated robbery and did not specify how many had had their sentences commuted.Top of page