Cameroon: four men arrested and tortured

May 31, 2002

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Four members of the Mbororo pastoralist people of Cameroon have been imprisoned without charge and tortured, and are facing arbitrary trial by a military tribunal.

The only crime of Ousman Haman, Ahmadou Hassan, Adamu Isa and Yunusa Mbagoji is to have resisted the plans of Alhadji Baba Ahmadou Danpullo – a multi-millionaire rancher with interests in South Africa, Europe and the USA and prominent member of Cameroon's ruling party – to take over yet more of the Mbororo land. He is already the biggest landowner after the government in Cameroon's Northwest Province, and has been waging a campaign of terror against the Mbororo for sixteen years. The Mbororo, who are a branch of the Fulani people, herd their cattle in the mountains of north-west Cameroon, but their land and way of life are increasingly under threat.

Ousman Haman was arrested while filming a disputed piece of grazing land, and eye witnesses say he was taken to one of Alhadji Baba's ranches, where he was flogged by Captain Fotsing Benjamin, a squadron commander of the state Gendarmerie, as Alhadji Baba watched. He was then taken to join the three other men in the central prison of Bafoussam, which is in a different province, where their relatives will find it hard to reach them. They have been held there since 23 May 2002.

Survival has protested to Present Biya and the Cameroon authorities.