Cameroons: Trial over Cameroon’s Anglophone protests exposes national divide – reuters

February 13, 2017

“Cameroon’s linguistic divide dates back to the end of World War One when the League of Nations split the former German colony of Kamerun into zones of French and British administration.

Shortly after independence in 1960, voters from the smaller English zone opted to join Cameroon over neighboring Nigeria – a decision some now regret.

The divisions were in evidence in the courtroom on Monday.

More than a dozen English-speaking defense lawyers wore the elaborate British-style wigs in the French-speaking court, while government lawyers went bare-headed.

The Anglophone lawyers waited patiently for the translation of the proceedings but the quality was so poor that they asked for the interpreter to stop, a Reuters witness said.

The defendants are being tried under a 2014 law created to help combat militants from Nigeria-based Islamist militant group Boko Haram whose fighters regularly launch attacks in Cameroon.

“The anti-terror law is being used to curtail dissent and that infringes on the basic rights and freedoms in the constitution,” Amnesty International’s Ilaria Allegrozzi said.

Cameroon regularly sentences people to death but has not carried out executions for years. The hearing was adjourned and the next one is scheduled for March 23.”
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