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11 May 2020

Front Line Defenders condemns the continued attacks against human rights defender Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the systematic targeting and continued attacks against human rights defender Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna. The recent attacks against the human rights defender appear to be part of a pattern of reprisals for his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights.

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Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna is a human rights defender who works as a legal representative for the organisation Organic Farming for Gorillas (OFFGO) and for its founder, human rights defender Jan Cappelle. OFFGO was founded in 2015 in the North-west region of Cameroon to work on issues of land and environmental rights, farming, and for the protection of the Cross River gorilla, a critically endangered species. In the course of their work, OFFGO has monitored the status of land holdings and land grabs in the North-west, including the alleged land encroachment on the land of small scale farmers by a well-known businessman Baba Danpullo, who operates tea plantations and cattle ranches in Northwest Cameroon.

In May and June 2019, Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna was subject to a series of threats and intimidation attempts, receiving death threats via anonymous calls and text messages. It is believed that the threats were in response to his work on a report published by the Cameroon National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF). The report confirmed OFFGO’s findings concerning land grabbing and human rights violations in the Northwest region.

On 21 March 2020, Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna escaped an attempted kidnapping by two unknown men in Bamenda. The unknown men tried to force him into their car, but he resisted and managed to escape. Only a few days later, on 27 March, there was an attempt made on his life by two gunmen while he was visiting his brother-in-law. The shots fired by the two men hit his brother-in-law in the leg, seriously injuring him. Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna was unharmed. The human rights defender filed complaints for both incidents with the police but no progress in the investigation was reported as was the case for past deaths threats he received.

These two incidents mark an escalation in the nature and frequency of threats against Elvis Brown Luma Makuna. Front Line Defenders believes that these threats are directly linked to the deportation of Jan Cappelle, human rights defender, lawyer and founder of OFFGO. On 26 February 2020, Jan Cappelle was expelled from Cameroon, despite holding a valid visa.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the systematic targeting, continuous threats, and kidnapping and murder attempts against Elvis Brown Luma Makuna, which it belives are directly linked to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Cameroon to take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Elvis Brown Luma Mukuna, and carry out immediate, thorough and impartial investigations into the attempts of kidnapping and murder of the defender, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards.