Difference: arrest, abduction and kidnapping – expert explain

Published by Georges Munang on

Differences arrest abduction and kidnapping

News of the kidnap of several students at PSS Nkwen in Bamenda on Monday, Nov. 5 has gone viral in Cameroon and beyond. The Authors of the kidnap is under investigation. While the government says it is an act of terrorism committed by secessionists, the Ambazonia Interim Government maintains it is a stage act by the Cameroon Government to set them up.

“Bamenda residents are in total panic after suspected Ambazonian fighters stormed the Presbyterian Secondary School (PSS), Nkwen and kidnapped 79 students and three school officials early this Monday. According to Mme Njie Maurine, Discipline Mistress of PSS Nkwen, 82 people were abducted; 79 students, the principal, the school bus driver and a teacher from CPC Bali”. Mimi Mefor Infos reports

“Video of 11 Arrested PSS Nkwen Students…This video also shows how gentle the Ambazonian fighters are. They’ve given access to communication and the students have made their points contrary to regular government soldiers that would kill students, pastors and teachers before, during and after arrest”.

“Ambazonian fighters would Arrest and show proof of Life while Biya’s fighters arrest, kill and only show proof of corpses! Based on circumstantial evidence, any student or arrested by Ambazonian fighters are always displayed on video while Government soldiers shoot and kill at point-blank” National Telegraph reports

Differences: arrest, abduction and kidnapping

As the leading socio-political blog in Cameroon, Munang.net will not go into the polemics of who did the act and who did not.

Interesting to note here is that though National Telegraph emphasizes the use of the term Arrest, it can be well described politically as a military propaganda to agenda set the narrative.

However, munang.net has noticed that many do not actually understand the difference between these legal terms: Arrest, Abduction and Kidnap. I was as well very curious to find out. This is our focus in this blog post.

Don’t miss use these terms any longer. In most cases, our loved ones or high-status personalities may be tagged “Missing”. When this happens, the trauma of determining their where about may live us speculating legal and illegal actions.

  • The person may not want to, or may have forgotten to get in contact with us: he/she may have decided to go away for the weekend or on a visit without telling anyone
  • The person may not have been able to get in contact with us for technical reasons: this can happen when he/she is, unpredictably or unexpectedly cut off from means of communication.
  • The person may have been detained, arrested, abducted or kidnapped. All have in common the characteristics that the person is deprived of his/her freedom of movement and could experience anything from polite pressure to a life threat. In some cases the person may be able to check in with us, meaning that we will have more information about the situation.

The last point is our interest in this comparative analysis. Reason being that most often we especially media personnel both traditional and Digital are tempted to miss use the terms arrest, abduction or kidnap during reporting or analysis. This comes with the difficulty in reporting a developing story where we find it difficult ascertaining the condition of the victim

For the sake of our readers and to better understand the difference in these legal terminologies Munang.net spoke to a seasoned legal practitioner Barrister Vitalise Lengen Ju, senior partner at VERATAS LAW OFFICES in Buea Cameroon, Barrister, and solicitor at the supreme courts of the Gambia and Cameroon as well as the Former state counsel of the Gambia. This is what he had to say concerning the difference in the terms: arrest, abduction, and kidnapping

What is arrest?

Arrest is the term used to describe detention by security forces (so that in principle law can be invoked). It is done legally by a state agent where he presents himself, states his mission and takes the convict for questioning. For clarity reasons when talking about arrest, we can say the leaders of the Ambazonia interim government were arrested, leaders of the banned Consortium were arrested”.

What is abduction?

“Abduction refers to the forcible capture and removal of a person or defender in an illegal way most often for political reasons. This can be done by the state or any other individual. For instance, the state may decide in matters of national security to undermine the due process of arrest and employ abduction of an individual for security follow up”.

“In right legal principles, we can cite the example of chief justice Ayah Pual Abine though the end process of his abduction was declared an arrest. Also, abduction can be explained when a man illegally decides to capture or steal his child from a run-away mother”

What is kidnapping?

“Kidnapping refers to forced capture and detention with the explicit purpose of obtaining concessions from the captive or others. You can call it an unlawful business, criminal business. It is synonymous to abduction, but the main variant is that kidnap is done for a ransom. For example, the former minister Amadou Ali’s wife was kidnapped by Boko Haram, we have been getting reports of kidnappings by Amba Boys though in most case they release their captives without ransom”

Well understood right?

Hope the explanations were explicit enough. Now note this: detention (arrest, abduction, kidnapping) may vary in length from a few hours to even years. A resolution will most often be achieved by setting the person free, or it may turn into kidnapping situation when an objective is sought beyond the mere detention, or in some serious cases –abduction- it may lead to injuries or death, or “disappearance”. As summarily analyzed from Barrister’s interview. What is your thought?

Leave a comment

× WhatsApp Us