…funding by the state to the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedom (NCHRF) is in figures and not in substance …
This was part of some of the challenges expressed by the Chairperson of the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms, Cameroon while facilitating the Day of Consultation with CSOs on the Elaboration of Cameroon’s 5th Periodic Report to the UN’s Committee Against Torture.
COMINSUD selected from the North West Region (NWR) joined 40 other participants from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and the NCHRF from the 10 regions on January 12th 2016 in Yaounde to
- be informed on what the State intends to present to the UN Committee Against Torture within her 5th Periodic Report on all the new measures taken since 2010 to safeguard against torture;
- alongside enrich the quality and pertinence of the report to reflect practical field realities of the state of torture in Cameroon since 2010.
This consultation was organised on the heels of the fact that Cameroon had ratified in December 1986 the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishmen.
Torture basically means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person irrespective of the purpose (e.g. punishment, seeking information, discrimination. investigation etc.).
Ratifying this convention and its optional protocol requires Cameroon to submit periodic reports to the UN Committee Against Torture, after every 4 years, with the last report submitted in 2010.
CSOs in working groups had the opportunity to examine the 50-page draft of this 5th periodic report prepared by MINJUSTICE wherein they acknowledged the huge strides made by the state since 2010 in diverse domains such as sanctions against Forces of law and order who inflict torture on detainees and other persons and awareness raising efforts in curbing violence against women.
CSOs however decried inadequacies in the report following practical realities and examples with it lacking information on the reality of overcrowding prisons, difficulties of prisoners and detainees to have access to lawyers, doctors and even visits from family members alongside challenges which stymie the independence of the NCHRF.
With proposals made by the participants with the spirit of enriching the report, the fear still lingered on whether they will be accepted and corroborated in the report by the government in her submission to the UN Committee.
It was therefore unanimously agreed that an alternative report be prepared by the Civil Society and coordinated by the NCHRF pointing out with key verifiable examples some cases of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment happening in Cameroon, while proposing areas of improvement by the state.