Human Rights Watch calls out Cameroon over health of Southern Cameroons Separatist Leader

The International Rights Campaigner, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Cameroon government to give separatist leader, Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy, also known as Shufai, proper healthcare as the lawyer struggles for life in the crowded Kondengui Maximum Security Prison in Yaounde.

In a statement Friday, HRW notes that on May 16, Shufai, one of the leaders of the separatist group “Ambazonia Interim Government,” was transferred from the prison to the hospital for non-Covid-19-related illness.

“His family and lawyers said he was unconscious, and his health had deteriorated significantly over the previous 10 days. They reported that on May 19, Shufai was handcuffed to his hospital bed for the night, despite being barely able to move,” says the rights organization.

And a statement from the defense team of the separatist leaders details how on May 19, “…the superintendent of Prison Principale Kondengui Yaounde ordered four prison guards to chain the two hands of our client and colleague ShuFai Blaise Esq to his sick bed at Yaounde Military Hospital throughout the night. We received a late night distress call about the brutal act from one of his family members who was chased out shabbily amid dramatic commotion and warned not to approach the ward as they overpowered the patient to chain his two hands to his sick bed with a drip on one of them.”

HRW says in was incensed by such treatment, and even more worried that on May 21, the leader was discharged from the Military Hospital and sent back to the Prison “apparently following pressure by the head of the detention facility on medical staff,” and  despite his failing health.

“Transferring Shufai, who is immunocompromised, to a crowded prison setting where transmission of Covid-19 is more likely seriously enhances the threats to his health and life,” HRW states.

Shufai and nine other leaders of the “Ambazonia Interim Government” are serving life sentences on charges of terrorism, rebellion, and secession.

They were sentenced on August 20 following what HRW has described as “a deeply flawed trial.”

 “This process has been plagued by pretrial abuses and serious allegations of fair-trial breaches that warrant independent and impartial judicial review, which we hope will happen under appeal,” said, Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch back in September 2019.

The leaders eventually appealed the verdict.