Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The European Union 2016 Reports On Human Rights and Democracy Says Cameroon Experienced Severe Violations Of Human Rights And Individual Freedom In 2016


The 2016 European Union report on Human Rights and Democracy was made public yesterday Tuesday Oct. 17, 2017. According to the report, Cameroon experienced severe human rights violation and individual freedom, and adopted new penal codes which are still to go practical.

According to the report, in 2016, Cameroon confronted the security threat posed by Boko Haram in the extreme north, with serious human rights violations being perpetrated by the terrorist group and allegations of violations of human rights resulting from the response to this threat by the security forces. 
Civil rights such as freedom of expression including through social media and freedom of assembly came under pressure, especially during civil protests and strikes in the northwestern and south-western regions, where the grievances of the English-speaking minorities were expressed. 
2016 was also marked by continued worrying detention conditions, problematic access to justice and systematic violations of vulnerable minorities and the rights of human rights defenders. 
The EU’s priorities have been the consolidation of democratic processes including the electoral processes, the promotion and protection of the rights of persons belonging to vulnerable groups/minorities, the fight against the death penalty and the improvement of the justice system, as well as the protection of human rights defenders and their rights. 
Access to basic services, especially in areas affected by insecurity, has also been a key concern. Besides the broad issue of access to basic services, including in relation to insecurity or dramatic humanitarian situations in the far north and east, the main human rights issues are 107 EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2016 linked to detention conditions, access to justice, human rights violations and abuse within the framework of the fight against terrorism, violations of vulnerable minorities’ rights (e.g. children, women, LGBTI, etc.), restrictions on the freedom of peaceful assembly and association, as well as threats to freedom of expression. 
However, the new Penal Code adopted in July 2016 brought about a few positive changes: it criminalises genital mutilation, introduces alternatives to imprisonment such as non-custodial sentences and prohibits expulsions from the matrimonial home outside a judicial framework. The Code also attempts to criminalise corruption in administrative competitions. On the other hand, the new Code did not abolish the death penalty and still regards homosexuality as a criminal offence. It remains to be seen how some of the key provisions of the new Code will be implemented in practice. 

The EU continued to address human rights and democratisation issues in its political dialogue with the authorities, both in formal sessions and informally. Several demarches were also carried out on a number of human rights issues, in order to advocate for, among other principles, the abolition of the death penalty and the ratification of the Rome Statute. 
Several issues were raised in informal bilateral contacts, including on the matter of respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism and on access to basic public services in areas affected by insecurity. 
The EU attended and actively participated in workshops, conferences and other public events at which human rights issues were discussed, including the prevention of electoral violence, the launch of the LGBTI civil society observatory, gender equality, the role of youth, Human Rights Day events and detention conditions. 
The EU also attended several court hearings in the trial of Ahmed Abba, RFI’s (Radio France International) correspondent charged with ‘complicity with terrorist acts’. 
The EU maintained a regular dialogue and consultations with local civil society representatives and human rights defenders. The EU attended events organised by those stakeholders throughout the year. 
In 2016 the EU continued to provide financial support for projects funded through the European Development Fund (EDF) and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). 
The objectives of the call for proposals launched in 2015 are to support participatory democracy including the parliament; to promote freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of association and peaceful assembly; to promote dialogue and civic education towards stability and peaceful coexistence among communities; and to contribute to a climate of trust around electoral processes. 
In 2016 two projects were aimed at contributing to participatory democracy and promoting civil and political rights. In addition, other projects addressed further issues which include the improved role of the parliament, the gender balance in politics, youth participation in the public debate and the role of media and civil society in electoral processes. 
Further projects tackled issues such as violence against women, the situation of women in various regions, the participation of indigenous peoples in forest management, improvements to detention conditions and justice for juveniles. 
Finally, a regional project also implemented 108 EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2016 in Cameroon has been contributing to the promotion of the rights of environmental defenders in the Congo Basin. 
The EU also launched a call for proposals concerning a programme to support responsible governance of land tenure by promoting the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. 
Cameroon has ratified a number of key international human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. On the other hand, some instruments – such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – have been signed but not yet ratified. The signing and ratification of other instruments such as the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which aims to abolish the death penalty, have been repeatedly rejected by Cameroon within the framework of the UPR. Cameroon’s latest UPR was in 2013 and the next will be in May 2018

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