Eric Ohena Lembembe was a journalist and human rights defender committed to the protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex person (LGBTI) in Cameroon.
He was the executive director of the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS and worked in collaboration with several organisations such as Human rights watch, Alternatives Cameroun or the Association for the Defence of Homosexuals. He had also participated in the Universal Periodic Review of Cameroon at the United Nations Human rights Council, in May 2013, during which he made some recommendations.
Eric Ohena Lembembe was found dead at his home on the 15 of July 2013. His attackers allegedly beat him to death, some of his body parts were broken and his face and hands burned by an iron.
Civil society organisations have reported numerous irregularities in the investigation into his murder. Among other things, no autopsy was performed and no fingerprints were found.
The context of homophobia
This crime occurs within a general homophobic context committed against individuals or organisations defending the rights of sexual minorities and compounded by the impunity of perpetrators.
In a country where homosexuality is penalized, no NGO can register under a name referring to LGBTI people; defenders and their family are victims of insults and death threats; and no action is taken about the numerous complaints made to denounce LGBTI person’s rights violations.
These last years, threats and attacks on physical integrity of defenders of LGBTI rights in Cameroon have consequently increased which is particularly worrying.
Documents and statements
Recently, a report of the Observatory for the protection of human rights defenders (a joint programme of OMCT/FIDH) identifies the violence suffered by LBGTI people and by those who support them, including human rights defenders.
Some Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations High-Commissary for human rights, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekkagya, have sent a communication (only available in French)to the Cameroonian authorities on this human rights violation.