Jean-Claude Roger Mbede

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Jean-Claude Roger Mbede
Died Ngoumou
Nationality Cameroonian
Known for arrest for homosexuality

Jean-Claude Roger Mbede was a Cameroonian man who was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on charges of homosexuality and attempted homosexuality. His sentence was protested by international human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International,[1] the latter of which named him a prisoner of conscience.[2]

On 2 March 2011, agents of Cameroon's Secretary of State for Defense (SED) security service arrested Mbede after he sent SMS messages arranging to meet a male acquaintance.[3] According to the UK newspaper The Guardian, the SED "regularly target and prosecute gay men" under penal code Section 347a: "Whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years and with a fine ranging from 20,000 Francs CFA to 200,000 Francs CFA."[1] Mbede was detained for one week on "suspicion of homosexuality" in Yaoundé before being formally charged with "homosexuality and attempted homosexuality" on 9 March.[2]

Mbede was represented by Alice Nkom, a noted LGBT rights attorney and head of Cameroon's Association to Defend Homosexuals.[4]

On 28 April 2011, he was found guilty on both charges and sentenced to three years' imprisonment in Kondengui Central Prison.[1] His sentence was protested by Human Rights Watch, who described it as "a gross violation of Mbede's rights to freedom of expression and equality" and called on Cameroon's government to abolish the relevant law.[5]

Amnesty International also issued an alert on Mbede's behalf, with a spokesperson stating: "Locking someone up for their real or perceived sexual orientation is a flagrant breach of basic rights and should not be allowed under any country's penal code".[1] Amnesty International's Africa Director Erwin var der Borght stated, "Jean-Claude Mbede is a prisoner of conscience held solely because of his perceived sexual orientation. All charges against him should be dropped and he should be released immediately."[6] Several local branches of Amnesty International are collecting signatures demanding his release.

In November 2011, Nkom stated that Mbede had suffered malnutrition and sexual assault while in prison.[4] His appeal was scheduled for a hearing on 5 March 2012, but was delayed.[7] He was provisionally released on 16 July 2012.[8]

34 years old Mbede died on 10 January 2014 in his hometown Ngoumou after he left a hospital because he lacked money for continued medical care.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d David Smith (9 June 2011). "Campaign to free Cameroon man jailed for homosexuality". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Prisoner of Conscience, Imprisoned for Homosexuality". Amnesty International. 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "Amnesty: Cameroonian men detained for “homosexuality”". MSN. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "A Lone Activist Crusades for Change in Cameroon". The Advocate. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Cameroon: ‘Sodomy’ Law Violates Basic Rights". Human Rights Watch. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 26 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Cameroon urged to overhaul laws criminalizing gay relationships". Amnesty International. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Cameroon delays appeal of man serving three years for gay sex". Gay Star News. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2012. 
  8. ^ "Prisoner of Conscience, Imprisoned for Homosexuality". Amnesty International. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  9. ^ Homophobia victim Roger Mbede dies in Cameroon, 76crimes.com, 10 January 2014. Retrieved 10 January 2014