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Cameroon: Stigmatisation and fear of arrest of human rights defender Ms Alice Nkom
Sunday 9 January 2011, the TV programme Canal Plus broadcast an interview with the technical advisor to the Minister of Communications, who referred to the possibility that human rights defender Ms Alice Nkom may be arrested in connection with her human rights work, in particular concerning the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT).
Alice Nkom is a human rights lawyer as well as founder and president of ADEFHO, an association working against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
During the interview broadcast by Canal Plus on 9 January, the representative of the Minister of Communication suggested that Alice Nkom may be arrested on the basis that she would have committed crimes and acts undermining the sovereignty and independence of Cameroon by accepting European Union funds in support of the work of ADEFHO.
Several Cameroonian websites, including a blog which identifies itself as representing Cameroonian youths, reiterated the accusations and declared a "fatwa against homosexuals" and invited readers to act in these terms: "hunt them down, expose them with no mercy!".
Tuesday 11 January 2011, during the programme Cartes Sur Tables on the private TV channel STV2, Alice Nkom received threats of physical harm from a fellow lawyer from Douala because of her work on sexual orientation. The lawyer reportedly declared: "Ms Nkom, I have friends who told me they would like to cross your path in a dark corner to deal with you. This way you'll understand how our children feel".
Front Line is concerned about the intimidatory statement of a government representative against Alice Nkom, who now fears she may be arrested or otherwise targeted. This declaration may have the effect of encouraging individuals to commit offences, including assaulting Alice Nkom and other human rights defenders members of ADEFHO.