The United States condemned "in the strongest terms" yesterday the murder of a prominent Cameroonian LGBTI-rights activist while urging that nation's authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible.
Following the murder Eric Ohena Lembembe, a Cameroonian LGBTI and AIDS activist, deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf vowed that the U.S. would continue to support activists like Lembembe and promote human rights abroad.
"The United States actively promotes respect for the human rights of all people, including LGBT individuals, in Cameroon and around the world," Harf said in a statement. "We will continue to support activists, like Mr. Lembembe, who stand up for the human rights of all people, regardless of who they are or who they love."
According to Human Rights Watch, Lembembe's body was discovered Monday evening by friends who had been unable to reach him by telephone for two days. Lembembe appeared to have been tortured, with his neck and feet broken and his face, hands and feet burned with an iron. The Associated Press reports Lembembe had recently spoken out against violent attacks against LGBT-rights activists.
"There is no doubt: anti-gay thugs are targeting those who support equal rights on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity," Lembembe said in a July 1 statement addressing a series of break-ins at the offices of LGBT groups. "Unfortunately, a climate of hatred and bigotry in Cameroon, which extends to high levels in government, reassures homophobes that they can get away with these crimes."
Cameroon, along with 37 other African countries, considers homosexuality to be a criminal offense.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release July 16, 2013
STATEMENT BY DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON MARIE HARF
Murder of Cameroonian LGBT and AIDS Activist Eric Ohena Lembembe
We deplore the brutal murder of Eric Ohena Lembembe, who was found tortured to death in his home in Yaoundé yesterday. We condemn this terrible act in the strongest terms and urge the Cameroonian authorities to thoroughly and promptly investigate and prosecute those responsible for his death.
Eric Ohena Lembembe was the Executive Director of Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS (CAMFAIDS), an organization dedicated to the fight against AIDS and for the human rights of LGBT people in Cameroon. Just two weeks ago, Mr. Lembembe spoke out against the recent break-ins at the offices of groups advocating for gay rights. The local office of one organization, Alternatives-Cameroun, was set on fire on June 26th.
The United States actively promotes respect for the human rights of all people, including LGBT individuals, in Cameroon and around the world. We will continue to support activists, like Mr. Lembembe, who stand up for the human rights of all people, regardless of who they are or who they love.