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Arbitrary arrest of human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko

Status: 
Released on bail
About the situation

On 22 May 2020, human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was released on bail.

On 16 May 2020, human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was arbitrarily arrested by Gendarmerie officers in his family residence in Yaoundé. The defender remains in detention in a cell of the Genderarmerie station in Mimboman, Yaoundé.

About Séverin Le Juste Bikoko

Séverin Le Juste Bikoko is a human rights defender and member of Tournons La Page Cameroun (Let's turn the page – TLP), a movement promoting democratic processes and citizen participation. The TLP organisation is active in 10 African countries and advocates for freedom of expression and assembly in efforts to engage all levels of civil society in the democratic process. It mainly conducts its advocacy through demonstrations, campaigns and public debates.

22 May 2020
Séverin Le Juste Bikoko released on bail

On 22 May 2020, human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was released on bail.

He is accused of rebellion and if convicted, could face a prison sentence up to four years. A hearing is yet to be scheduled.

 

19 May 2020
Arbitrary arrest of human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko

On 16 May 2020, human rights defender Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was arbitrarily arrested by Gendarmerie officers in his family residence in Yaoundé. The defender remains in detention in a cell of the Genderarmerie station in Mimboman, Yaoundé.

Download the Urgent Appeal

Séverin Le Juste Bikoko is a human rights defender and member of Tournons La Page Cameroun (Let's turn the page – TLP), a movement promoting democratic processes and citizen participation. The TLP organisation is active in 10 African countries and advocates for freedom of expression and assembly in efforts to engage all levels of civil society in the democratic process. It mainly conducts its advocacy through demonstrations, campaigns and public debates.

On 16 May 2020 at approximately 6:30am, members of the Gendarmerie arrived at Séverin Le Juste Bikoko’s family home to arrest him. They were not in possession of any warrant or official document justifying their presence, so the defender refused to be arrested and closed the gate of the residence. However, the gendarmes broke down the gate and arrested Séverin Le Juste Bikoko. His father Jean-Marc Bikoko, human rights defender and a focal point at national level for Dynamique Citoyenne (Dynamic Citizen), a network of Cameroonian civil society organisations which conducts independent monitoring of public policies, was present in the house at the time of his son’s arrest. Jean-Marc Bikoko reported that the gendarme leading the arrest told him that they were arresting Séverin Le Juste Bikoko as part of an effort to arrest “bandits” in the area. The gendarme told Séverin Le Juste Bikoko’s father that the human rights defender was allegedly refusing to comply with their attempts to arrest him, a claim which those present during the arrest denied. Séverin Le Juste Bikoko had not used violence or attempted to flee the gendarmes attempts, but had merely closed the gate to the Gendarmerie as they failed to produce evidence of an arrest warrent or any official document. The defender was arbitrarily arrested and placed in a cell in the Gendarmerie station in Mimboman.

On the mornings of 18 and 19 May, Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was brought before the public prosecutor, but is yet to be made aware of the charges against him. Jean-Marc Bikoko believes the arbitrary arrest of his son Séverin Le Juste Bikoko is in reprisal for their legitimate and peaceful human rights activities.

Séverin Le Juste Bikoko was previously arrested on 15 September 2015 along wtih Jean-Marc Bikoko and human rights defenders Agnès Adelaide Metougou, Ndjalla Epangue Yves and Jessie Bikoko. He was charged with disobedience and rebellion in relation to an incident during a workshop organised by Dynamique Citoyenne to mark the International Day of Democracy. Security forces arrested them for allegedly refusing to respect the orders of the sub-divisional officer, who had ordered the suspension of the workshop. However, no formal documents were presented to support this order. Following their arrest, the human rights defenders were taken to the Central Police Station No. 1 where they spent the night before being transferred to the police academy in the Tsinga neighbourhood of Yaoundé. On 23 September 2015, Séverin Le Juste Bikoko and the other defenders were released without bail by order of the Court of First Instance. They were originally due to appear again before the court on 28 October 2015, however the hearing has been adjourned several times and the next hearing is scheduled for 27 May 2020.

Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned regarding the arbitrary detention of Séverin Le Juste Bikoko as it strongly believes that it is directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights.