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No probe in gay Cameroon activist murder, lawyer says

Interviewed on FRANCE 24, Alice Nkom, the lawyer acting for a gay rights campaigner found murdered this week in Cameroon, said that police have made no effort to collect the elements necessary for a good investigation.

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Lawyers acting for a gay rights campaigner murdered in Cameroon accused police on Thursday of failing to carry out basic procedures that would help catch his killers.

Eric Lembembe’s body was found in his home in the capital of Yaounde on Monday. His neck had been broken, and he had suffered burns inflicted by an iron, according to Human Rights Watch.

Interviewed by FRANCE 24 on Thursday, Lembembe’s lawyer, Alice Nkom, said the police had not been cooperative in building a case against whoever committed the crime.

“The police did not try to have the elements for a good inquiry, a good investigation to try to know who did this,” Nkom said. “Nobody even seems to have a picture of what they found in that house.”

Nkom added that Lembembe’s body was all but unrecognisable, as it had been “destroyed by such violence”.

Lembembe’s lawyers fear ‘there will never be justice’

Lembembe was a leading LGBT activist in Cameroon, a country where homosexuality is punishable by prison terms of up to five years, and where more people are prosecuted for gay sex than in any other sub-Saharan African nation, according to Human Rights Watch.

A trained journalist, Lembembe was executive director of CAMFAIDS, a human rights group that helped document persecution of Cameroon’s gay community. He also contributed several chapters to a book about the global gay rights movement published in February, titled “From Wrongs to Gay Rights”.

Saskia Ditisheim, the president of the Swiss branch of Lawyers Without Borders, is aiding Nkom build her case.

But in her interview with FRANCE 24, Nkom expressed skepticism as to the outcome. “We are afraid that with no information from the police, we will never know who did this and no one will ever be punished,” she said. “We are afraid there will never be justice.”
The killing of Lembembe comes just weeks after an arson attack on a charity that offered help to gay Cameroonians with HIV.
 

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