Amnesty International Wednesday, condemned a 10-year jail sentence handed down to three Cameroonians, who reportedly shared a text message that joked about the extremist group, Boko Haram, among themselves. According to a statement released Wednesday by the human rights group, 27-year-old Fomusoh Ivo Feh and his two friends; Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob, were convicted by the Yaoundé Military Court, in Cameroon, for “non-denunciation of terrorist acts.”
Reacting to the jail sentence, Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Samira Daoud said;
“Fomusoh Ivo and his two friends should never have been arrested in the first place, as they were simply exercising their right to freedom of expression. Instead of being in school like their friends, these three young men will now spend years of their lives in prison for a simple joke. This ruling is clear evidence that Cameroonian military courts should not have jurisdiction to try civilians. The Cameroonian authorities must quash their conviction and sentence and immediately and unconditionally release all three of them.”
Ivo, whom Amnesty International considers to be a prisoner of conscience, was arrested on 13 December 2014 after forwarding his friends a sarcastic SMS referring to Boko Haram. He was held in police custody in Douala before being transferred to Yaoundé Prison in January 2015.
As documented by Amnesty International; legal proceedings involving “acts of terrorism” in Cameroonian military courts fail to meet international fair trial standards. Many of those who have been brought to court under suspicion of supporting Boko Haram have faced unfair trials, where people are convicted on the basis of limited and unverifiable evidence.