Maurice Kamto, an accomplished legal scholar and prominent political figure has been jailed and charged with offenses such as “rebellion” and “insurrection,” which could result in a death penalty. CCS has written the President of the Republic of Cameroon expressing concern about this case considering that Mr. Kamto served as chairman and special rapporteur of the United Nations International Law Commission as well as Dean of Juridical and Political Sciences at the University of Yaounde II. CCS is concerned that he has been detained for peaceful political activities. CCS has urged the government to respect the rights of a prominent scholar and look into this situation.
President of the Republic
Présidence de la République
Cellule de Communication
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern for Maurice Kamto, an accomplished legal scholar and prominent political figure, who has been jailed and charged with offenses such “rebellion” and “insurrection”, which could result in a death sentence. As you know, Mr. Kamto was a presidential candidate and leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) before his arrest on January 28 following a protest of the October 2018 election results.
While we take no position in terms of the internal politics of Cameroon, we note that Mr. Kamto is widely respected in his academic field, having served as chairman and special rapporteur of the United Nations International Law Commission, as well as dean of Juridical and Political Sciences at University of Yaoundé II.
It is unclear what the evidence is for the crimes Maurice Kamto is alleged to have committed, and we are extremely concerned that he may have been detained for his peaceful political activities. A detention under such circumstances would be a flagrant violation of his basic human rights, which are protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which Cameroon has ratified.
We are also concerned at reports that many colleagues of Maurice Kamto, who have also been arrested, have begun a hunger strike, and we urge your government to ensure that their health and well-being are a top priority.
We join with groups such as the Société française pour le droit international and the Institut de Droit international in urging you to respect the rights of this prominent scholar. We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice
Ambassador to the United States
Mr. Henri Étoundi Essomba
Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon
2349 Massachusetts Ave N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
(202) 265-8790 Ext. 113 or Ext. 303
(202) 387-3826 (Fax)