April 8, 2011- The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice is pleased to learn of the early release of popular Cameroonian singer songwriter Lapiro de Mbanga, who had been held as a political prisoner in Cameroon for nearly three years. Mbanga, who was scheduled to be released tomorrow, was released earlier today.
The 52-year old performer is known for his satirical lyrics, which criticize corrupt politicians and address social and economic injustice in Cameroon. It is believed Mr. Mbanga’s arrest was prompted by “Constipated Constitution”, a song he says he wrote to explain Cameroon’s troubles, in which he calls his country “a paradise for corruption”.
With the help of a Front-Line Fund grant from the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and other human rights organizations, Lapiro was able to travel last month to the capital city of Yaounde and appear before the Cameroon Supreme Court. Though his appeal of the charges against him was denied, the court did set an April 9, 2011 release date. It is unknown why Mbanga was released a day early.
Although Lapiro de Mbanga is little known in the United States, his voice has echoed loud and clear in his native Cameroon as one who is unafraid to challenge corruption and injustice,” said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. “We are thrilled to learn of this early release and are gratified to have been able to support his stand on behalf of human rights in his country.”
The Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice established the Front-Line Fund grant program to advance the cause of human rights in American foreign policy and to be a vital voice standing up for the nation’s most important values of decency, dignity, freedom and justice throughout the world.