We friends would like to introduce the case of Wilfried Siewe, a German engineer of Cameroonian origin, who has been innocently detained since February 18, 2019 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Wilfried was on holidays since February 1, 2019 with his wife and two children ind in the Cameroonian capital. The family was due to return to Germany on February 18, 2019, as Wilfried a Siemens employee was supposed to return to work on February 20, 2019.
On the morning of February 18th, 2019, Wilfried went to Nsimalen International airport to register for his return flight. After completing their depature formalities, he decided to stop in town to buy some books as a souvenir to take some final pictures before departing.
While taking pictures of the justice building, he was arrested by police officers who made him delete the pictures. Nevertheless, this led to a provisional arrest by the police. He was then taken to a police station where his camera and mobile phone where searched. They found photos and videos of recent legal political demonstrations against the Cameroonian goverment in some European Countries. Some of these photos and the videos were those shared in large number on social netwoks and available to all. He was also accused of taking pictures of public buildings and being in possession of books by Cameroonian politicians.
The Cameroonian police accuses Wilfried Siewe to be a dangerous person who has organized political demonstrations against the Cameroonian regime. He was also accused of participating in the riots in the Cameroonian embassy in Berlin which took place on January 26, 2019. However Wilfried was demonstrably in another German City that day.
Theses are the reasons for the arrest and charges against Wilfried.
He has been detained since February 18, 2019—initially in the Yaounde court police station and since March 1st, 2019 in the Central Kondengui Prison.
How can a foreign citizen be arbitrarily arrested simply for taking pictures, owning books sold in public library and for using social medias?
Wilfried Siewe has so far gone through two military court cases, the last of which led to a six-month pre-trial detention. Hearings were supposed to be held, one was done so far but because the procesutor was absent, there are no further dates communicated. According to the latest information, it may take months and there is even a possibility of prolonging the pre-trial detention twice for 6 months each.
One disturbing aspect of this case is that the entire file on this case, including copies of his wife and children´s ID had been shared on social media for several weeks. These files reveal very private information about Wilfried Siewe and his family. Sharing those on the web exposes them to serious and continuing identity theft.
The German embassy in Yaounde was informed on the day of the arrest and the Foreign Office in Germany a few days later. The only official feedback from these institutions could be found in the aforementionned file. It does not contain an opinion on the case and no request for release. On May 2nd, 2019, Wielfried was taken from the prison without any prior notice and presented to the magistrate. As a result, his lawyer was not present at the time of the trial before the magistrate.
The German embassy in Cameroon and the Federal Foreign Office appear very passive, and not willing to put any pressure on the Cameroonian government-despite the great reputation in the international political scene and its desire for worldwide respect for human rights. The Cameroonian government is actively engaging in brutal human rights violations and abuses by unlawfully detaining individuals and barring fair and timely investigations. A temporary release could have been requested at a minimum, allowing Wilfried to stay at home with his relatives during the time of investgation instead of locking him in a prison.
We ask you therefore to sign this petition in order to put pressure on the Foreign Office and the German embassy in Cameroon. Germany has the the duty of protecting the fundemental rights of its citizens, Wilfried does not belong in a prison in Cameroon but with his family in Erlangen (Germany).
Thank you and best regards,