In spite the introduction of the new Criminal Procedure code that guarantees some basic human rights of suspects, police and gendarmes in Kumba continue to detain persons for prolonged periods of over a week demanding huge sums of money from them as bail fee. Global conscience in the past 10 days has received over 14 complaints about the arbitrary actions of police and gendarmerie officers and how the extort money from indigent ignorant citizens in the name of bail.
The situation is further exacerbated by the lukewarm attitude of the senior state counsel of Kumba to complaints about arbitrary arrests and detentions, and the collection of unreceipted amounts of money in the name of bail fees.
Global Conscience has addressed a memo to the senior state counsel of Kumba urging him to take immediate measures to arrest the situation else the organisation would mobilise civil society organisations and the population of Kumba for a peaceful demonstration against the arbitrary and corrupt acts of the police and gendarmes in Kumba.
Read the full memo below:
February 28, 2007
The Senior State Counsel
Department of Public Prosecution
Subject: Growing Arbitrary Arrests, Detentions and Extortion in Kumba Police and Gendarmerie Stations
We have the honour, most respectful, to express our worry about the alarming rate of arbitrary arrests, detentions and extortion in the police and gendarmerie stations. We have received over 16 complaints in our office from Monday, February 19, 2007, and our investigations have revealed that police and gendarmes act in complete disrespect of the new Criminal Procedure Code when they arrest, detain and release suspects.
We have also come to the sad realization that your department does not carry routine unannounced checks of the cells thus giving the uniform officers the go-ahead to hold innocent persons in their cells for prolonged periods than provided by law, and fleece them of huge sums of money in the name of bail. We understand that State Counsels have honorariums for their control of the cells, and that this lofty gesture of government is intended to stem arbitrary and prolonged detentions.
We must state our regrets that complaints about arbitrary and prolonged detentions we have addressed to your chambers have always been referred back to the abusing authorities for investigations, and we are confounded how you expect the same authorities to indict themselves.
It is no secret in Kumba that bail in the police and gendarmerie cells is FCFA 25.000, even where there is a release order from your department.
Sir, we find this kind of persecution and extortion very disturbing, and our worry is exacerbated by your apparent lukewarmness in arresting the situation as is to be expected of a “State Counsel”. We are very hopeful that you can arrest this unbecoming situation with immediate effect if you so desire.
We understand that the law provides sanctions for arbitrary arrests and detentions, but regret to remind you that the bulk of the population of Kumba are too poor and ignorant, and are oftentimes intimidated by the uniform officers.
We are therefore, humbly appealing to you to use your high office to arrest the situation in the Kumba police and gendarmerie stations that is provoking tension that can degenerate into outbursts of violence.
Meanwhile, sir, in the face of this helplessness, we are mobilizing Civil Society Organizations and victims of these arbitrary abuses, as well as the population for an imminent demonstration, should our appeal to you fail to yield the desired results.
Thank you for your prompt action and trust that we are available to assist in any investigations.
Founder/Chief Executive Officer
Cc.: The Senior Divisional Officer for Meme
The National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms, Yaounde (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Prime Minister and Head of Government, Yaounde (email@example.com)