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Cameroon’s authorities must reveal the whereabouts of a journalist who has been held in secret detention since his arrest three months ago and give him access to lawyer and his family, Amnesty International said today.

Journalist Ahmed Abba, a Hausa language correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) was arrested on July 28 in the city of Maroua while investigating the Boko Haram conflict in the north of the country. Despite repeated attempts by his lawyer, RFI and his family, he has been refused any contact with the outside world and subject to secret detention – prohibited under international law. In addition, Ahmed Abba has been deprived of his right to be brought promptly before an ordinary civilian court, as well as the right to challenge the lawfulness of his detention. It is unclear if any charges have been brought against him.  

“Whatever the reason for Ahmed Abba’s arrest is, there can be no justification for secret detention. Both international human rights law and Cameroonian national law require that he has regular access to a lawyer and that any charges against him be made public,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher.

“Holding someone in secret detention increases the risks of torture and other ill-treatment. Cameroonian authorities have committed to upholding human rights standards in all circumstances, and this can be no exception.”

Since 2014 the Cameroonian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people for allegedly supporting Boko Haram. Many are held in inhumane detention conditions in overcrowded prisons, with extremely long delays before facing trial.  

In September 2015 Amnesty International met a number of detainees in Yaoundé who reported having been ill-treated while being held without access to lawyers or families.