One of the people who brutally beat an intersex person in a mob attack in Cameroon last year has been jailed by a Yaoundé court.
In November 2021, a mob sexually assaulted, beat, threatened and humiliated the 27-year-old intersex person in the capital city. The attack, which lasted for several hours, was filmed and circulated on social media.
The victim, Sara (not their real name), suffered severe bruising all over their body. Their doctor said they needed monitoring for 15 to 18 days due to the severity of the injuries.
Human Right Watch reported that one man was arrested soon after the attack but was released without charge after 48 hours.
When local LGBTI organisation, the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), filed a complaint, police opened a new investigation and arrested the suspect.
He was finally convicted and sentenced on February 25 to a 6-month prison sentence and a fine of 650,000 CFA (US$1,106).
While it is unlikely that any of the other perpetrators will be prosecuted, Sara’s lawyer, Michel Togue, said that the one man’s jailing was significant.
“It sends a strong message that violence against people because of their sexual orientation is wrong and leads to consequences for the perpetrators,” he commented.
Human Rights Watch also described a 28 November press statement by René Emmanuel, Cameroon’s communication minister, which condemned violence against LGBTI people as a positive development.
Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Cameroon and LGBTI people face arrest, discrimination and violence because of their identity.
In May last year, Cameroonian transgender social media celebrity Shakiro and her friend Patricia were sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of “attempted homosexuality”. Just weeks after they were released on bail pending an appeal, Shakiro was brutally beaten by a mob.
“As Cameroon’s authorities are slowly recognizing these obligations, they should repeal the law criminalizing same-sex conduct and protect the rights of Cameroon’s LGBTI population on an equal basis with others and in line with international standards,” said Human Rights Watch Senior Central Africa Researcher, Ilaria Allegrozzi.