Swiss may deport gay teen to Cameroon

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Switzerland is due to return a Cameroonian teenager to his home country, where he could face imprisonment and physical punishment.

Anatole Zali arrived in Switzerland from Cameroon on 3rd February 2008 and claimed asylum on the grounds that he had been threatened because he is gay.

In Cameroon, Zali, who is 18, claims to have received threats from the police, where he stayed with his cousin for protection.

His cousin was later arrested by the police on suspicion of being gay, and an arrest warrant on the same grounds was issued for Mr Zali.

In the wake of the warrant, he fled to Switzerland to escape arrest.

His claim for asylum was rejected on 14th February 2008 and under current asylum legislation in Switzerland asylum-seekers are not granted state-funded legal assistance.

Consequently, Anatole Zali had to submit his own appeal against the rejection of his asylum claim without legal representation.

He was given five days from the initial decision in which to submit his appeal, in accordance with Swiss asylum procedures. His appeal was rejected.

Amnesty International argue that Switzerland has obligations under international law, including the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, to give asylum-seekers access to a fair and satisfactory asylum procedure, and not to return anyone to a country where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations.

Those detained or imprisoned in Cameroon because of their alleged sexual orientation have been targeted for ill-treatment in custody.

They are often subjected to verbal and physical threats from other inmates.

Organisers of the campaign to stop Mr Zali’s deportation have suggested a number of actions that could help him to stay in Switzerland.

These include urging the Swiss authorities not to forcibly return Anatole Zali to Cameroon, as he is likely to face arrest because of his sexual orientation.

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(Note: webpage is in French.)