Cameroun: Musician Lapiro de Mbanga faces new trial


11 February 2009

Musician Lapiro de Mbanga faces new trial

The government of Cameroon is being accused of severe violations of human rights as the musician Lapiro de Mbanga is confronted with a new trial on absurd charges that it was a song of his that led to the destruction of a banana plantation.

Can a song make workers destroy a banana plantation? The popular Cameroonian musician Pierre Roger Lambo Sandjo, better known as Lapiro de Mbanga, is facing a new trial on 20 March 2009, where the government, represented by the Ministry of Finance, claims that one of Lapiro’s songs, ‘Constitutional Constipation’, was inciting employees of a banana plantation in Lapiro’s hometown to destroy the banana plantations.

According to the charges the total damages were estimated to 300,000 euros — an astronomic sum that the government claims Lapiro de Mbanga resonsible to pay.

Three year jail sentence
The artist was initially detained on 9 April 2008 on claims that he instigated youths during the February nationwide strike and campaign campaign to demand that president Paul Biya resign from power. Lapiro de Manga was later sentenced three years in jail.

Lapiro de Mbangas health has gradually deteriorated in the overcrowded prison. Sharing a cell with 50 prisoners, he is not allowed any physical activities. The food is insufficient and of poor quality, and the sanitary conditions are very bad.

International criticism
The trial is taking place on the background on massive international criticism of the repressions of the current regime.

In January 2009, the human rights organisation Amnesty International published a report which accused the government of gross violations spanning more than ten years — including killings and torture. The catalogue of abuses revealed in the Amnesty report mainly involves repression of political dissent and describes the appalling situations of prisoners.

“Political opposition is not tolerated in Cameroon,’ said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Africa. “Any dissent is suppressed through either violence or abuse of the legal system to silence critics. Unfair trials, intimidation and harassment, including death threats, are routinely used by the authorities to quash criticism from politicians, human rights defenders and journalists,” told Tawanda Hondora.

Unfair trial
The international community and supporters of Lapiro de Mbanga are worried that once again the popular musician and defender of freedom of expression will face an unfair trial.

Freemuse, International PEN, Lapiro’s guitar provider Vigier Guitars, and others, have launched campaigns in support of Lapiro de Mbanga. When in 2008 he was taken in handcuffs to the courtroom, he was greeted by a crowd wearing Freemuse t-shirts and demanding his freedom.

Click to read more about Lapiro de Mbanga on
Lapiro de Mbanga

Click to read more about music censorship in Cameroon

Read more on the internet

Cameroon-info – 28 January 2009:

‘Affaire Lapiro : Que cherche le ministère des Finances?’

Amnesty International – 29 January 2009:

‘Cameroon: A catalogue of human rights abuses’

The / – 7 July 2008:

‘Cameroon: Lapiro De Mbanga Sick in Prison’

Protests and appeals:

International PEN Appeal
Freemuse Appeal
Vigier Guitars

Lapiro de Mbanga: ‘Prison’ – video on YouTube

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