June 7th, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an opinion released today, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) ruled that the incarceration of Cornelius Fonya, by the Republic of Cameroon, was in violation of international law. Mr. Fonya had been sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for consensual same-sex relations.

The UNWGAD called on the government of Cameroon to immediately release Mr. Fonya from custody, to compensate him for his unjust detention, to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for his illegal imprisonment, and to repeal article 347 bis of the Cameroon Penal Code which criminalizes same-sex relations. The UNWGAD further referred the case to the United Nations Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling (Opinion No. 14/2017 (Cameroon)) will appear in due course on the UNWGAD website and in the annual report of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

On May 9, 2016, International Human Rights Advocates (IHRA) filed a petition with the UNWGAD on Mr. Fonya’s behalf.

Thomas M. Kellenberg