A man in Cameroon has been sentenced to a shocking nine years in jail on homosexuality charges, reports Erasing 76 Crimes.
Cornelius Fonya (35), was arrested on 29 October 2012 and has been in jail ever since. Although he was granted bail and even paid the court mandated bail amount, he was simply not released.
It was first claimed that the teen he was accused of having sex with was 14, but it was later proved that he was actually 19-years-old and an adult.
Despite neither the young man nor his family, or any other witnesses, testifying in his trial, Fonya was on Wednesday sent to jail for almost a decade in the city of Limbe.
The law allows for up to five years imprisonment for homosexuality, but the sentence was particularly harsh because the judge insisted on including the disproven charge of sex with a minor.
“The legal system in Cameroon has proven once more the homophobic context in which we are currently living in, where it is enough for one to get imprisoned for his or her perceived or actual sexual preferences,” said human rights group CAMEF.
The organisation reported that members of the LGBT community in the southwest region of the country “are often beaten in the streets, others stoned to death in the past and others arbitrarily detained on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation then sent to prison after being sentenced by a judge with no evidence of same-sex practices”.
CAMEF added that it is working with a lawyer to offer legal support to Fonya.
Cameroon is said to have the highest rate of conviction of LGBT people in the world. At its recent UNHRC Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights, the country rejected recommendations to ensure people’s basic right not to be killed, raped, or assaulted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In July, leading Cameroonian LGBT activist Eric Ohena Lembembe was mutilated and murdered in his home. Two weeks earlier, he’d publicly condemned the state’s inaction following several attacks on human rights defenders. Lembembe’s murder remains unsolved.
In October, an HIV and LGBT human rights organisation discovered a group of 10 previously unknown people jailed for homosexuality in a Cameroon prison. It said that many of these detainees were beaten or tortured by police, prison staff and other prisoners.