Amnesty International has called for Cameroonian officials to immediately release two young men charged with homosexuality offences.

The pair, a 19-year-old known only as Jonas, and a 20-year-old known only as Francky – were arrested on July 25th in a car outside a night club in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé.

Cameroon law criminalises homosexuality. Although the relevant part of the penal code has been in force since 1972, human rights campaigners say it has been far more stringently enforced in recent years.

The young men are being held at Yaoundé’s Kondengui central prison.

Erwin Van Der Borght, Amnesty International’s Africa Programme Director, said: “Given the high level of officially sanctioned homophobia in Cameroon, those arrested under this law are at risk of attack or other forms of ill-treatment by fellow prisoners, or by prison authorities, because of their alleged sexual orientation.

“Cameroon should repeal this draconian law. By arresting people purely because of their alleged sexual orientation, the Cameroonian government is flagrantly violating international human rights treaties which it has signed or ratified.”

According to the human rights charity, Jean-Claude Roger Mbede is serving a 36-month prison sentence in the prison over text messages he sent to a male acquaintance.