Report: Cameroon Officials Torture Gay Suspects
Suspected homosexuals in Cameroon say they have been tortured and raped in prison, according to a report released Thursday by Human Rights Watch and three local organizations.
The 55-page report, titled "Guilty by Association," documents reported abuses by authorities prosecuting suspected gays and lesbians. Those convicted can face up to five years in prison in Cameroon.
The report documents the case of one man who was tied to a chair and beaten so badly he couldn’t walk for two weeks. Another defendant described being raped repeatedly and said his rib was broken in a beating.
"Prison guards made no attempt to stop the gang rape and assault, and no one was punished for it, highlighting another sad irony of Cameroon’s law: People are convicted to prison time for consensual sexual conduct, but once in prison, convicts who are not considered ’homosexual’ can sexually victimize them with impunity," the report said.
Neela Ghoshal, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said many cases rested on confessions obtained during beatings and torture or on suspects’ appearance and other behavior.
"No one should be sentenced to prison time because they blurt out a confession to stop torture, or because a judge doesn’t like what they drink, how they dress, or what kind of text messages they send," Ghoshal said.
Cameroon’s Justice Ministry has acknowledged that human rights abuses have occurred but did not issue a specific response to the allegations in Thursday’s report.