The past few days have not been a pleasant one for the African Innovation Ecosystem, especially the AfriLabs network as Rebecca Enonchong, our Board Chair and one of Africa’s most prominent tech entrepreneurs, has been detained since Tuesday, the 10th of August, 2021 in her home country, Cameroon.
Rebecca was illegally and unlawfully arrested and has been held at the Gendarmerie Légion in Douala, Cameroon for 3 (three) nights, without any legal, written formal charges, warrant, or summons in her name. This is a blatant disregard of her fundamental rights accorded to her by the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights to which the Republic of Cameroon is a signatory which stipulates that freedom, equality, justice, and dignity are essential objectives for the legitimate aspirations for the African people.
A timeline of injustice
According to Rebecca’s lawyers, on the 10th day of August 2021, the Commander of the Littoral Gendarmerie Légion in Douala, Cameroon invited Rebecca Enonchong to his office for a courtesy visit. Upon her arrival, Rebecca Enonchong was interrogated and detained, which continued the following day, without just cause. Rebecca was informed she was being prosecuted for contempt of court, on the person of Mr Jean Claude Robert FOE, Attorney General of the Littoral Court of Appeal. She was also notified that she was to be taken into custody on the instructions of the same Mr Foe.
On the 11th day of August 2021, we were informed of the illegal detention and arrest of Rebecca Enonchong by Jean Claude Robert FOE, Attorney General, at the Gendarmerie Légion in Douala, Cameroon.
August 12, 2021, she was again taken to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bonanjo and awaited the instructions that would be given by the Public Prosecutor but he has refused to receive Rebecca Enonchong’s lawyers. The lawyers have requested clarity on their client’s case since the “case file is empty”.
August 13, 2021, Rebecca Enonchong is still deprived of her freedom at the pleasure of the Attorney General who is both judge and party in this case.
What can we do?
As a community, we will not sit back and watch one of us get robbed of her fundamental human rights. Here is what you can do to help:
- Join us in this appeal against injustice by signing this petition and sharing it with your network. Use the hashtag #FreeRebecca to post about it on social media.
- We are compiling a list of contact details of relevant embassies and influential organisations that can help put pressure on the Cameroonian Government for the release of Rebecca Enonchong. We have compiled what we have so far in a spreadsheet and your input will be appreciated. Access the database here.
- Take a picture of yourself holding a placard or piece of paper with the inscription #FreeRebecca. Share the picture on social media and use the same hashtag. You can also use this image as your display picture on social media to create more awareness. Here is a pre-written tweet that you can use.
- Call anyone you know in Cameroon and make the case for them to call the authorities. If in Cameroon, call the authorities and make the case for her release.
- Make an appointment at the Cameroonian Embassy in your country and go with other investors and entrepreneurs as a team to make a case for Rebecca to the Ambassador – and go with a written statement if possible.
- If you have any information that would be helpful to her case as well as would like to support strategically or volunteer time, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The global community is watching
— Njeri Wangarĩ (@Kenyanpoet) August 12, 2021
Good Morning All!
— Kah Walla (@KahWalla) August 12, 2021
— Kola Aina (@kola_aina) August 12, 2021
JUST IN: Reports that Cameroonian born technology entrepreneur, Rebecca Enonchong @africatechie is being detained at the Gendarmerie Legion in Douala, #Cameroon. #FreeRebecca pic.twitter.com/MIpWNUWggx
— Techloy 🚀 (@techloy) August 11, 2021
This is #RebeccaEnonchong @africatechie from Cameroon; she is one of Africa’s Most Influential Tech-Entrepreneurs. Powerful first for her intellect and business acumen. She has been arrested and locked up in Cameroun without any reason. #FreeRebecca @UNIC_Yaounde @USEmbCameroon pic.twitter.com/uHTEH3ORXf
— Mac-Jordan 🇨🇦🇬🇭 (@MacJordaN) August 11, 2021
Tech CEO Rebecca Enonchong detained in Cameroon, sparking outrage as many call for her release
"We have received no documentation of what she is accused of, nor formal written complaint against her. She is a victim of an abuse of power," her lawyer says https://t.co/6njUe6UJNE
— CNN Africa (@CNNAfrica) August 13, 2021
The Cameroonian tech entrepreneur was reportedly arrested and held at the Gendarmerie Legion (a police station) in Douala, apparently by government order and without any arrest warrant.https://t.co/9u4pyAMEsH
— TechCabal (@TechCabal) August 12, 2021
Day 3 of Rebecca Enonchong illegal detention by Cameroonian Government officials.
— AfriLabs (@AfriLabs) August 13, 2021
They wish to extend the custody of @africatechie under the pretext of wanting to interview 2 other witnesses which still constitutes an offence according to article 119 paragraph 3 « In any case, the hearing of a witness cannot alone justify an extension of custody » #FreeRebecca pic.twitter.com/eOjJzq1dzE
— ActivSpaces (@ActivSpaces) August 12, 2021
The Commander of the Littoral Gendarmerie Legion invited @africatechie to his office for a courtesy visit, in order to get to know her better. On her arrival at his office she was interrogated without being informed of the facts she was accused of. #FreeRebecca
— TD (@TomiDee) August 12, 2021
Investors and key figures in Africa’s tech scene are petitioning for Rebecca Enonchong's release. @AfriLabs said her arrest without warrant is “a blatant disregard for the rule of law."@qzafrica's story on #FreeRebecca https://t.co/FufN9KS9X8
— Alexander Onukwue (@onu_kwue) August 12, 2021
AfriLabs compile une liste de coordonnées de contact d'ambassades pertinentes et d'organisations influentes qui peuvent aider à faire pression sur le Gouvernement Camerounais pour la libération de Rebecca Enonchong.#FreeRebecca https://t.co/QyNwIbnkG7
— AfriLabs (@AfriLabs) August 12, 2021
#AfriLabs demande la libération de la Présidente de notre Conseil d'Administration, Rebecca Enonchong.
Rejoignez-nous dans cet appel contre l'injustice en signant cette pétition et en la partageant avec votre réseau: https://t.co/YJRo2LSQhI.#FreeRebecca https://t.co/m4MW04Uo0b pic.twitter.com/d8g5KJC5tv
— AfriLabs (@AfriLabs) August 12, 2021
We are concerned about the safety of @africatechie – a valuable voice in tech and advocacy. The @AfriLabs community is asking everyone in the ecosystem to kindly sign & share this petition for her release from detention 🙏🏽 #StrongerTogether https://t.co/18feYy7Gr9
— Female Founders Africa™ (@FemFoundersAf) August 12, 2021
Lessons learned so far from @africatechie case:
1. Rich or poor, perception created arbitrary arrest always possible;
2. Structural non-respect of habeas corpus principle enshrined in #constitution;
3. Disastrous impact on international image #Cameroun & its investment climate.
— Philippe Van Damme (@P_VanDamme_EU) August 13, 2021