Evaluation of Public Policy in Cameroon

“What is the role of the population and CSOs in the evaluation of Public Policy in Cameroon and at what point do they come in?”

It was in a bid in seeking strategies in enhancing civil and political rights that Ambe Michel Bruno C. (COMINSUD) attended a capacity building seminar for Civil Society Organisations and Political Parties on the theme “Follow up and Evaluation of Public Policy within the framework of the Implementation of Civil and Political Rights in Cameroon”.

Joining other 35 participants across the Nation, this seminar organised by the Human Rights Commission of the Cameroon Bar, held in Kribi on November 17th and 18th 2016, was focused on strengthening the state of law in Cameroon supported by an active civil society involvement in monitoring and evaluating public policies in Cameroon especially related to the respect of civil and political rights.

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Drilled on the steps and tools in monitoring and valorisation of results of evaluation exercises to stimulate change and action from government for the respect of human rights, COMINSUD as a rights promotion organisation and as the North West Regional Coordinator of RECODH was given the opportunity to share her experience in rights promotion and protection alongside her efforts in strengthening the respect of the rights of freedom of assembly and public demonstration in the North West Region.

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Ambe M. Bruno C. sharing COMINSUDs experiences in Public Policy Evaluation and civil rights protection

Key among the recommendations of the seminar were:

  1. Strengthening of the role of non state actors in the process of conception, implementation, and evaluation of public policies in Cameroon in a general manner and specifically in the domain of civil and political rights.
  2. Strengthening of the powers and prerogatives of parliamentarians in the process of evaluation of public policies in Cameroon.
  3. The amelioration of the legal framework guiding freedom of public assembly and public demonstration in Cameroon to avoid potential public disorder.

written by Ambe Michel Bruno C.

Historic action by Oku and Mbessa Communities in seeking peace

As an aftermath of the peaceful public manifestation walk by over 250 Mbessa a high level consultative peace meeting was held on March 3rd 2016 at the Mbessa Multipurpose Hall.

This meeting had amongst others the Senior Divisional Officers (SDOs) of Bui and Boyo (Nzeki Theophile and Oum II Joseph), the Mayors and Divisional Officers (DOs) of Oku and Belo, the Fons of Oku and Mbessa Villages and a cream of members of their traditional councils.

The historic nature of this meeting is seen in the fact that, in over 30 years, this is the first time a Fon of Oku is visiting the Mbessa Village. The over three hours meeting witnessed frank and open discussions aimed at establishing sustainable peace. Four of COMINSUD’s Peace Volunteers were also able to participate.

Key resolutions from this meeting as agreed by all the stakeholders were that:

  • The people in the disputed land boundary area should shun violence and remain calm for the governor and a regional technical team that will visit the area in the period ahead to demarcate the boundaries of the two communities;
  • More exchange visits between the Oku and Mbessa communities will be carried out to ensure continuous dialogue and sustainable peace;
  • Necessary traditional rites should be carried out by the Fons to enforce peaceful decisions and dialogue.

It is hoped that more efforts will be put to bear for more socio-cultural exchange activities among these communities for sustainable peace as the demarcation process is awaited.

Stay with us to be informed about the progress of this story.

Public Demonstration by over 250 Women of Mbessa Village

February 16th 2016
Over 250 women aged between 25 to 70 years engaged in a public manifestation walk from Mbessa village in Belo Sub Division, Boyo Division in the North West Region (NWR) to Bamenda, the Regional Headquarters of the NWR (33 km). Their objective was to table a petition and their grievances to the Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique. This is as a result of latent boundary conflict between Mbessa (Boyo Division) and Oku (Bui Division) which has been characterised by sporadic attacks by some persons from Oku on the Mbessa community members in their farms.

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The women left Mbessa at 4:00 am carrying each a stem of the peace plant and placards raising issues centred around the fact that Oku presently is the Sub Division of origin of Cameroon’s Prime Minister HE Yang Philemon and most people from Oku perpetrating these aggressions on Mbessa go unpunished…

The placards carried messages such as:

Why is the administration quiet on surprise attacks by Oku on Mbessa?

3 Mbessa killed in 1982, houses destroyed, hundreds rendered homeless, no punishment no compensation, why?

2007/2008 mass burning of houses, destruction of crops, thousands homeless – no punishment, no compensation!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands! No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands!
No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

They arrived at Belo the Headquarter of the Sub Division at around 2 pm and made a stop at the Sub Divisional Office but the Divisional Officer Nicolas Manchang who doubles as the 2nd Assistant SDO for Boyo Division was not on seat (we learnt he was on permission). After about one hour of sitting accompanied with negotiations from the Mayor of Belo Council Tosam Bernard Nenghabi the lone official present at the scene, the women resolved to continue their journey to Bamenda where they hope to meet a listening ear.

The Mayor of Belo Council alongside the Mayor of Njinikom Council, the Member of Parliament Honorable Wainanchi Honorine and the Company Commander Boyo Commandant Passele struggled without success  to convince the women to give him the petition and go back to Mbessa. The Mayor of Belo then invited them to the Belo Grandstand for other negotiations. He was at this point in time joined by the Police Commissioner of Special Branch of Fundong Mr Bezigui. Both still failed. The Mayor invited them to sit for refreshment; they denied arguing that it is a way to waste their time and continued their journey.

The Interim Divisional Officer for Belo Sub Division came at about 6 pm when the Mbessa women had covered over 25 km and were at Mbingo but he could not even talk to the women as they were already saying it is some sort of negligence and lack of consideration from the local administration.

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However, the Mbessa women continued their journey over night. They reached Kejom Keku in Babanki in Tubah Sub division around 2 am and decided to rest before continuing later. It is at that time that the Governor of the NWR Adolphe Lele Lafrique moved to the site when it was exactly 2:10 am. He said he could not wait for them to come right to Bamenda and when he got the information, he immediately took off to meet them on the way.

The governor collected the messages and the petition they had and ordered for vehicles to carry them back to Mbessa while promising to channel the issue to the hierarchy for prompt solution. The women in turn, thanked him and insisted that if within a week nothing is done they will still treck again to Bamenda.

COMINSUD has trained Peace Volunteers (PVs) from Mbessa and Oku in July 1015. This peaceful and very powerful action can be considered as an outcome of this training and the tireless efforts of the five Mbessa PVs to change peoples minds towards non-violent solutions of conflicts and peaceful civic activities.

Capacity Development for the implementation of Human Rights

COMINSUD’s Ambe Michel Bruno C. attended a capacity building workshop in the Human Rights and Governance sectors on Planning, Monitoring and Denunciation within the framework of COMINSUD’s position as the North West Regional Coordinator of RECODH.

This workshop, which took place from 19th to 22nd January 2016 in Mbalmayo, was the first national concertation activity geared towards ushering in a new partnership between RECODH and AGEH within the framework of the 3 year project titled: “Capacity Development with RECODH and its Member Organisations for better Accompanying the Populations in enjoying their Rights”. This project is part and parcel of the Civil Peace Service by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

COMINSUD joined 15 other participants (Regional Coordinators and the National Coordination) for the training that enabled the network and their organizations to better participate in the development of the 2016 Action Plan of RECODH at the National, Regional and Divisional levels. Participants were drilled and introduced to the planning tool “ROMA” (Result Oriented Management).

Group Work Exercise on Development of 2016 Action  Plans

Group Work Exercise on Development of 2016 Action Plans

This workshop and AGEH’s support will enable COMINSUD as the Regional Coordinator to effectively link and collaborate with other Civil Society Organizations involved in the protection and defense of human rights in the North West Region (NWR). Through this partnership, RECODH and COMINSUD will be accompanied to engage more effectively in constructive dialogues and influencing decision-making and practices related to human rights issues, and to engage with policy makers at the local level to improve the general environment for the local population in enjoying their rights.

Speaking shortly after the workshop, the Regional Coordinator for the Far North Region, Markeziah Ezechial, said that the training workshop was an important milestone in his work in Human Rights protection and defense and thanked AGEH for the opportunity.

On his part, the representative of COMINSUD said,

“The workshop has helped me; to get a better understanding of the tools and approaches used for monitoring of the implementation of fundamental human rights instruments at the local level; and to get the techniques used for systematic planning and evaluation. Now I am ready to infuse these newly acquired skills into our human rights work at COMINSUD”.

From February 1st, 2016, COMINSUD will join other regional focal points in putting in place the Divisional Focal Points of RECODH, paving way for what is considered will be a progressive and enriching step for the implantation of the network in the 34 councils in NWR.

Ambe Bruno (COMINSUD) presenting rights issues for the  North West

Ambe Bruno (COMINSUD) presenting rights issues for the North West

Contribution to the 5th Report to the UN’s Committee Against Torture

…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

  1. 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;
  2. 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.

Ambe Bruno (COMINSUD) contributing in the working group on  Women's Rights

Ambe Bruno (COMINSUD) contributing in the working group on Women’s Rights

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Ambe Bruno (COMINSUD) contributing in the working group on Rights of Detainees

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.

Mayors in 5 Municipalities of the North West Region raised Voices for Peace and better education facilities

The Mayors of Bali, Belo, Ndop, Oku and Balikumbat hosted 5 Municipal Round Table Discussions that brought together councilors, educational, religious, traditional and civil society representatives. They should reflect on the relevance of the theme of the 2015 “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign” and take action for improvement on the ground. The theme “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All” is very relevant to these municipalities because over 10 communities within these municipalities had witnessed in the recent past some of the worse forms of violent inter tribal/ethnic conflicts that resulted in loss of human lives, destruction of home, livelihood systems, educational materials and facilities.

The North West Region comparatively and proportionately benefits least from the national budget and development initiatives, is amongst the four poorest regions of the Country. However, its strong self-reliant and community development spirit is the driving force for the level of development it enjoys. Unfortunately a long history of tribal and ethic conflicts erodes these achievements of their many years of struggles.

It is against this background and the opportunity offered by the 16 day of activism campaign that the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) collaborating with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bamenda archdiocese (members of the Cameroon Civil Peace Service Network) decided to focus on these 5 Municipalities where they have been working to promote a culture of peace.

An average of 25 persons in each municipality Roundtable, reflected based on the situation in the homes, schools, neighborhoods, villages and municipality on the following:

  • The challenges concerning violence and education
  • How the spaces for education look like
  • Ways in which conflicts and violence have affects young people and the educational situation
  • Can you make a contribution towards positive and sustainable peace?

The participants were provided with an opening paper prepared and presented by COMINSUD on the background and objectives of the Campaign, the context and forms of violence and how women and girls suffer. They also had information on the 2015 theme with global statistics on the effects of violence on education. COMINSUD also presented to them excepts of a rapid assessment carried out in December 2014 by UNICEF and the Ministry of Basic Education (MINEDUB) in 110 schools and 93 households in four Divisions (Diamare, Logone et Chari, Mayo Tsanaga and Maya Sava) most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North Region. All those information enabled the participants to better appreciate the importance of the 16 days campaign and do an introspection of their local context.

These events which were covered by five community Radio Stations achieved the following:

  • The participants gained plenty of insights on the 16 Days Campaign with particular focus on violence and its effect on women and girls and the need for a culture of peace and how to build it via the opening presentation and materials handed to them.
  • The participants gained deeper insights of the challenging and difficult educational setting in which their children learn via guided discussions and exchange of practical experiences and how this affects the education of girls. Simple, low cost and practical actions were discussed that could make the school environment safe for learning such as: providing potable water, green the school, constructing separate latrines for boys and girls, speaking out and sanctioning actions that violate children especially girls.
  • Participants recognized the lack of tolerance amongst communities in conflict and how inadequate use of non violent approaches to conflicts resolutions reliance on external solutions have brought several negative consequences on in their municipalities. They strongly resolved to strengthen local conflict and dispute resolution structures within the communities and to create Municipal Peace Committees and Peace Desks to deal with conflicts and emergencies.
  • Participants committed to widen actions within their spheres of influence to promote a culture of peace. In this respected, over 500 copies of packages designed to stimulate discussions where shared out to be distributed to religious leaders, schools and groups within each municipality

Using the packages and communicating the content amongst others, called on people to make a peace action such as:

  • Wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period as a commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
  • Use your skills, knowledge and influence to help the victims of violence and abuse.
  • Speak out against violence toward woman and children and encourage silent female and children victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
  • Encouraged men and boys to talk about abuse and discourage abusive and violent behavior.
  • Also try to understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate violence.
  • Use social media (telephone, facebook, email, whatsup etc) to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Use religion worship service, cultural gathering etc to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Promote mobilization and actions of individuals and communities to promote reconciliation or eradicate violence via exchange visits, peace talks, peace gestures etc.
Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

Commemorating Human Rights Day

COMINSUD joined the rest of the world in commemorating the Human Rights Day on the theme “Our rights, our freedoms, always”. We joined the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedom in an early morning walk to sensitize the population on the significance of the day. Later in the day, we did an exhibition of all what we have done in the domain of human rights.

Especially women were interested in knowing more about their reproductive rights. There are many cases where wives are forced to have as many children as possible and men refuse to do family planning. Women wanted to know how they can come to an agreement with their husbands without fighting over the number of children. One convincing argument they could use, is the financial implication but also the immense load on the wives who are the only caretakers of these children and beside they have to do all the farm work and household chores.

It was a interesting exchange which ended in documents and information sharing between participants.