A reflection on the National Youth Day Celebrations was organized by ISHR / FHRD. Its activities were centered on building the consciousness of patriotism in secondary school students. The purpose of the lectures held in four secondary schools was geared at building in the young students, love for the fatherland, civic responsibility and the desire to be leader in the country. The programme was in line with the ISHR leadership goals that seek to gradually put in place a new, breed of leaders who will serve the nation and no let the nation serve them. These activities took place in Yaounde.
The ISHR/FHRD held a two day meeting (13-14 of August) on Bail at the Akum Village Council Hall in the Santa Sub Division of the North West Region. The villagers were given lectures on the new Cameroon criminal procedure code specifically on bail. They were told by Delegates of the aforementioned groups that it is their right to seek for bail when detained at the Police custody. The participants at the meeting were made to understand that there are two forms of Bail. Bail with surety and Bail without surety. Bail with surety, they were told, requires a person to put his liberty and or caution at stake in order to bring the person bailed any time as requested by the Judicial Police Officer (J.P.O). It also demands the known abode of the surety whereas bail without surety is as of right. Before the meeting ended, ISHR/FHRD recorded a case on bail. Which will be exposed as this paper continues. The villagers were very happy because of the lectures and they promised to exercise their rights in relation to bail.
This meeting brought together many stake-holders such as the Commissioners of Police, Commandants of some Gendarmerie Brigades, Traditional Chiefs, school children, Mayors and the locals. This meeting received a wide Media coverage. The executive president of the FHRD was interviewed over the National Radio and Television (C.R.T.V) during its weekly Programme known as "Cameroon Calling" in relation to the paper he presented on Bail during the meeting.
On the 21st and 22nd of September, the ISHR organized a seminar on the rights of the girl child to education. This took place in Manfe Manyu Division of the South West Region of Cameroon. Participants were drawn from the Ministry of Social and Women’s Affairs, traditional chiefs, school authorities and the Public. ISHR realized that parents prefer to send the boy child than a girl child to school. It was noticed that most parents allow their girl child to marry early, thereby preventing them to go far in Education. The reason for this, most people suggest is due to poverty. A girl child is look upon as an article that can be bought and sold. Because of this sad situation, Barrister Fombad Vehemently condemned the practice that it is a violation of the rights of the girl child to education and implored the participants to protect these rights to education of the girl child, that it is a fundamental right.
In this section, it is worthy to note that ISHR has been very effective on the field, blowing whistle and denouncing Instances of human rights violation and the rule of law. This was in synergy with other human rights groups such as HURIDAC and UHURISO. This chapter records the denunciations of some violations and presentation of some cases of protection.
The ISHR has been very active in denouncing human rights violations. It denounced the mysterious death of one Cameroonian renowned journalist Biby NGOTA, at the Yaounde- kondengui production Prison in 2010. The ISHR probed into the cause of the death of the said journalist. It went to the prison yard hoping to find the cause of the sudden death of the journalist. It is alleged that the journalist published an article implicating a member of government. No matter the allegations, the death of the journalist was sudden and mysterious. This, it is said, is a discouragement to journalists and freedom of the Press in Cameroon.
The economic rights of traders within the territory of Yaounde II urban Council were protected.
The construction of new Commercial Centers by the Cameroon Housing Corporation at the mokolo Market saw the increase of arbitrary tax control.
On the 2nd of July 2010, the agents of Yaounde II Urban Council came to the commercial centers claiming to collect taxes due to the council. They sealed more than thirty stores. The traders grew furious and there were some agitations. They solicited the services of ISHR in order to solve the problem. Some members of the ISHR contacted the competent taxation centre and discovered that the traders were governed by a particular tax regime that did not warrant them to pay council dues. Therefore the council had no right to collect dues from the traders. This, ISHR realized was in conformity with the tax code. It dialogued with the council authorities and explained to them the position of the law. Immediately after the meeting, the thirty stores were unsealed and the traders continued doing their transactions with joy.
The ISHR recorded some cases in 2010.
This exposes the violation of the rights of the tenant. A level II student of the Faculty of Arts and Modern Letters of the University of Yaounde I, Mr. "P" who lived at the Bonamoussadi neighbourhood had his door and windows removed by his landlord Mr. "A" for alleged non payment of one month rent. This happened in September 2010. Mr. "P" passed the nights for three days without his door and windows been replaced.
The ISHR seized of the matter and a meeting with the landlord was organized during which the landlord was made to understand that the procedure he took by removing door and windows was not appropriate. Since the outcome of the meeting was not positive. The matter was reported at the Gendarmerie Brigade at Ngoa-Ekelle Yaounde. The landlord realized that he took the wrong procedure and he finally replaced the door and windows. He paid a financial compensation to the student for the matter to be withdrawn from the investigating Judicial Police Office (Gendarmerie Brigade).
Two girls Miss "A" and "B" were recruited by a Bar owner Mr. "K". They were earning fifteen thousand francs each and had worked for five years. In November 2010, they demanded for their wages to be increased.
The employer Mr. "K", grew annoyed and dismissed them claiming he was paying too much than they deserved. Informed of the matter, ISHR dragged him to the labour office where he realized he was not taking into consideration the National Minimum Wage Rate which amounts to more than twenty Eight Thousand Francs. For fear of prosecution, he agreed to re employ the Ex-workers and pay them the salary as stipulated in the National Minimum Wage Rate of Cameroon.
An 18-year-old boy was arrested and detained at the Gendarmerie Brigade at Akum village in the North West Region of Cameroon for allegedly stealing a goat from the neighbour. During the meeting at the Akum town hall the case was reported to the ISHR delegates. Immediately after the meeting, the delegates visited the Gendarmerie Brigade and probed into the matter. It was discovered that the suspect has been in custody for more than four days contrary to the dispositions of the criminal procedure code. During interrogations, the suspect complained that he was rearrested after been released. We noticed that the Judicial Police Officers were guilty of illegal detention because they kept the suspect in custody for more than 48 hours as stipulated by law. Because of the knowledge of this illegal detention, the Judicial Police Officers, due to the pressure from ISHR, released the suspect unconditionally.
The ISHR carried out its activities not without obstacles.
The human rights culture is yet to be engraved in the minds of the population and some authorities Private or Public.
It is noticed that the public is yet to be sensitized on the existing rights that they enjoy. Because of the ignorance of the population especially those of the rural areas, some authorities and wealthy people exploit this to the detriment of the former.
It is regrettable to learn that even at the level of most police stations and Gendarmerie Brigades, suspects are flogged and subjected to harsh questioning method. Some unscrupulous Judicial Police Officers frustrate the right of the suspect to call his or her counsel or doctor for assistance. Most of the Judicial Police Officers especially those in the Francophone zones have not yet been totally circumcised from the spirit of “Code d’Instruction Criminelle”, operational in the francophone regions before the coming in to force of the new Criminal Procedure Code of Cameroon in 2006.
Lack of adequate Means-financial and material was an obstacle. However, ISHR remains determined to continue with its objectives within the scope of its available means.
Most people in Cameroon because of corruption perceive the institutions that suppose to defend their rights with little or no confidence. But ISHR is determined to restore confidence in the people so that they can look up to the state Institutions and other Institutions recognize by the state for remedy rather than mop justice. The year 2011, is an election year in Cameroon. ISHR has been assisting the community in getting their names registered in Electoral registers:
It is worth mentioning that most of the activities of ISHR in 2010 were successful. We will intensify the fight against bribery and corruption. Our activity created awareness in the population. They know that there are some rights they enjoy such as the right to vote, freedom of movement, expression, association etc. the right not to be arrested without warrant and the right to bail. In the coming years, we will work in synergy with more Human Rights Associations such as The Universal Human Rights Society (UHURISO); Human Rights Defense Association Cameroon (HURIDAC); to promote and protect human rights especially in 2011 which is an election year in Cameroon.
Mujem Fombad Esq
Secretary General, ISHR Cameroon