Finally it has ended. The Cameroon 9 who spent one year in jail awaiting trial, were acquitted but then forced to remain in prison, have been freed at last. Today in court two were acquitted and 7 found guilty of homosexuality charges and sentenced to 10 months in prison. Since they have already spent over a year in prison they were released at 8.30pm tonight.
Whilst there is a tremendous feeling of relief by the men, their lawyers and their supporters the matter has not ended. The men have suffered physically and mentally from their ordeal, have been sexually abused in prison and the due process of law has been a mockery as they were originally acquitted two months ago but the judge refused to release them. At this time the men’s psychological and health needs must be the first priority. It remains to be seen if they themselves wish to take the matter further or local human rights defenders wish to challenge the miscarriage of justice through the courts. As I said before during the original trial, the ordeal for these 9 men has only just begun as they now have to face the outside and largely hostile world of their communities, and families as well as find a way to rebuild the 12 months stolen from them and find ways and means to survive. So it has not ended – not yet anyway.