Cameroon authorities stopped a press conference organised by rights group Amnesty International to demand the release of three students jailed for sharing a joke about Boko Haram by SMS.
Amnesty International said on Wednesday that security agents showed up at the venue in the capital Yaounde and ordered the shut down of the event aimed at sharing over 310,000 letters and signatures in support of the release of the students.
“Early this morning, around a dozen security agents, in uniform and plain clothes, entered the hotel and ordered the managers to close the press conference venue. No written administrative justification was provided for the prohibition,” the group said in a statement.
They said the authorities were duly informed about the event and had acknowledged receipt of their letter.
Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa Director, Alioune Tine has called on President Paul Biya to release the three students – Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob – to “re-join their families, and realise their dream of continuing their studies and finding a job.”
They were found guilty of “non-denunciation of terrorism acts” on November 2, 2016 and sentenced each to 10 years in prison by a military court.
In December 2014, Fomusoh Ivo received a text message from a friend, saying: “Boko Haram recruits young people from 14 years old and above. Conditions for recruitment: 4 subjects at GCE, including religion”.
Ivo forwarded the message to Afuh Nivelle Nfor, who sent it to Azah Levis Gob. One of their teachers saw the text after confiscating the phone, and showed it to the police.
Ivo and his friends were all arrested. They were transferred to the Prison in Yaoundé on January 14, 2015.