Thirty-First Ordinary Session
2 – 16 May 2002 Pretoria, South Africa
Consideration of Reports Submitted by State Parties under the Terms of
Article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
Concluding Observations and Recommendations on the Initial Report of the Republic of Cameroon
1. The Republic of Cameroon (Cameroon) is a State Party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter) having ratified it on 20 June 1989.
2. The Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Secretariat) received the Initial Report of Cameroon on 23 October 2001. Cameroon submitted a compilation of five (5) outstanding reports owed to the African Commission, in both English and French languages.
3. These Concluding Observations are based on the contents of the Report and the discussions between the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission) and the Delegation of Cameroon following the presentation of the Report to the 31st Ordinary Session held in Pretoria, South Africa, from 2 to 16 May 2002.
II- Positive Aspects
The African Commission:
4. Commends Cameroon for having put in place a conducive environment for the submission and presentation of its initial well-detailed report in accordance with Article 62 of the African Charter.
5. Appreciates the fact that the initial report of Cameroon was prepared in accordance with the African Commission Guidelines for the Preparation of Periodic Reports. It is a very comprehensive Report with relevant statistics indicating, not only the positive aspects of the existing system, but also the difficulties encountered in the realisation of human and peoples’ rights.
6. Welcomes the release of all political prisoners.
7. Commends the Government of Cameroon for its efforts in the fight against poverty, corruption and HIV/AIDS.
8. Appreciates the efforts of the Government with regard to the realisation of economic and social rights, which has made it possible for equal opportunities in terms of basic education, taking care of non schooling youth , access to medical care and protection of marginalised groups.
9. Commends the Initial Report of Cameroon that addresses, objectively and in a balanced manner, the many issues related to economic, social and cultural rights contained in the African Charter. It is thus an important instrument for assessing the awareness of developmental problems affecting the harmonious evolution of human rights in the country.
III- Factors Restricting the Enjoyment of Rights Guaranteed by the African Charter
10. In spite of the efforts of the Government to comply with the provisions of the African Charter, the scarcity of resources continue to impair its capacity to ensure that all its citizens enjoy the rights guaranteed by the African Charter.
11. The deep-rooted prejudices and stereotypes that the society has on some aspects of human rights, in particular with regard to minority groups and women, is another impediment to the effective and extensive implementation of the African Charter in Cameroon.
IV- Areas of Concern
While recognising the efforts of Cameroon to promote and protect human rights and to create awareness on the principles and provisions of the African Charter, the African Commission remains concerned that:
12. The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Protocol Establishing the African Court) has not been ratified;
13. Women continue to be victims of discrimination due to socio-economic and cultural factors;
14. The Senate is still non-operational six years after the entry into force of its Constitution;
15. The extended duration of the mandate of the members of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms may compromise the independence of the institution;
16. The conditions of detention remain deplorable and do not comply with international standards.
The African Commission recommends that the Government of Cameroon:
17. Should strengthen its policies of access to free, compulsory and universal basic education so as to eliminate gender discrimination;
18. Should review its prison conditions with a view to bringing them in line with the principles of the African Charter and international standards;
19. Should continue working in close collaboration with Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs), so that the rights enshrined in the African Charter can be fully realised;
20. To further promote the culture for the respect of human rights so as to reduce the existing tension between English-speaking and French-speaking citizens and promote peaceful co-existence among the different ethnic groups in the country;
21. To ratify as soon as possible the Protocol Establishing the African Court;
22. To effectively implement the instruments and different programmes mentioned in the report as well as the provisions of the African Charter so as to guarantee a better promotion and protection of human rights;
23. Inform the African Commission, in its next Periodic Report, of the steps it has taken to address the areas of concern, as well as how it has implemented the recommendations in this Concluding Observations.
Adopted at 31st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights held from 2 to 16 May 2002 Pretoria, South Africa