Cameroon: UN Review should condemn crackdown on rights
15 May 2018
Cameroon’s human rights situation is to be reviewed at the United Nations' Human Rights Council in Geneva today, under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. The UN Human Rights Council carries out UPR review every four and a half years and this is the third-cycle review for Cameroon.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urges member states of the UN to call on Cameroon to protect civil and political rights in the Anglophone part of the country and honour its international human rights obligations. CHRI further urges Cameroon government to investigate allegations of violence against Anglophones and prosecute those responsible.
CHRI is deeply concerned by the lack of effective justice mechanisms since English has been excluded as a working language in courts. The Joint statement of special procedure mandate holders highlight the seriousness of rule of law issues in Cameroon and criticizes measures taken by national authorities, including curfews, bans on public meetings, and other restrictions aimed at preventing peaceful protests. Excessive use of force by security services, mass arrests, arbitrary detentions, torture and other ill treatment remain major issues.
CHRI urges the international community to take note of the following: violations of freedoms of expression and assembly; periodic government restrictions on access to the internet; trafficking in persons; harsh and life threatening prison conditions; criminalization and arrest of individuals engaged in consensual same-sex sexual conduct; and violations of workers’ rights, while making recommendations to the government of Cameroon.
The issue of use of excessive force by the police remain an issue since the Cameroon was last reviewed in 2013. During the 21 November 2016 teachers’ strike and rally, several people were severely beaten, dozens were arrested and at least two persons were shot dead, according to a report by the country’s National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms (Commission nationale des droits de l’homme et des libertes). A peaceful march organised by the students of Buea University was met with brutal repression by the police. The violence elicited response from the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association regarding the use of excessive force by security forces during the demonstrations.
There also remains the concerns about arbitrary and unfair trials in Cameroon. People accused of supporting Boko Haram have been sentenced to death following reportedly unfair trials in military courts.The cases were all prosecuted under the deeply flawed 2014 anti-terrorism law.
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