A popular trans celebrity and her companion are imprisoned awaiting trial in Cameroon after their arrest Monday on homosexuality charges. An online petition urges their release.
By Courtney Stans
At 8 p.m. on Feb. 8, trans women Mildred Loic (Shakiro) and Moute Rolland (Patricia) were arrested by police in the Nkoulouloun section of Douala, Cameroon.
On Monday, Shakiro and Patricia were stopped by a police patrol that demanded to see their national identity documents.
In Cameroon, trans people often don’t carry their ID cards because the birth gender indicated on the document is different from their personal gender identity and expression.
Police arrested them on homosexuality charges, not failure to carry a national identity card. Under Article 347-1 of the penal code, physical sexual relations between people of the same sex are a crime. Although being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex is not a crime, people are frequently arrested for their real or perceived homosexuality.
Police searched their phones and then sealed the devices.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, police questioned them about their alleged homosexuality, using threats and torture. The police made them sign a confession without allowing them to review it.
Later the two arrestees were imprisoned with more than 30 men in a 10-square-meter space where many detainees had to sleep on the floor.
A team of human rights defenders went to the prosecutor’s office, where they met and listened to the two arrestees. Shakiro told them:
“We have not received any visits from our family and we are not assisted by a lawyer. We are in a difficult situation where the other detainees threaten us with death. We are traumatized.”
The two women are currently being held at New Bell Prison in Douala.
LGBTI human rights advocates led by the Internet advocacy group All Out have launched an online petition seeking their release. That petition will be filed with the Minister of Justice of Cameroon. As of the publication of this article, the petition had 619 signatures.
Advocates’ report after meeting with the prisoners
The Cameroonian LGBTI advocacy organization Working For Our Wellbeing issued this report after visiting with Shakiro and Patricia.
On February 08, 2021, at 8:00 pm. Mildred Loic (Shakiro) and Moute Rolland (Patricia) were arrested by the gendarmerie of Nkoulouloun – Douala; both were arrested on the charges of homosexuality and after the gendarme officers asked for their identification cards which they did not have.
They were questioned by the gendarme officer about their alleged homosexuality on February 9, 2021, under pressure, threats and torture, the gendarmes will have them sign their statement without proofreading, search their telephones and then seal them.
At 1:15 pm our team went to Bonanjo’s at the Public Prosecutor’s Office, where we did meet them and listened to them. We would like to emphasize that they have not received any visits from family and are not assisted by counsel or a lawyer. The two victims we confirm their tragedies and we will like to present the state of their cell where they are incarcerated with more than 30 other male persons in a space of 10m2 sleeping on the floor.
– Listened and given counselling to the victims,
– We as well gave them what to eat and took relevant contact from them that can be of help in the process.
– Legal aid needed
– Nutritional assistance
We will like to say that yesterday a total of 4 LGBTIQ person’s were transferred to the New Bell prison of Douala with the investigation still going on to confirm the killing of two other in the political capital Yaounde.
We call on the government of Cameroon to release them immediately and put in place all measures to guarantee their security and wellbeing.
Courtney Stans, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian journalist who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.