An Appraisal of the Efficiency of the New Cameroon Human Rights Commission
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Many shortcomings and inadequacies in the protection of human rights in Cameroon have led the legislator to reform the 2004 National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms of Cameroon by Law N° 2019/014 of July 19, 2019 on the creation, organization and functioning of the Cameroon Human Rights Commission in order to allow a better protection of these human rights by the new Commission.
This study is title “An appraisal of the efficiency of the new Cameroon Human Rights Commission”.
Its content scope will be focused on examining the efficiency of the new Commission of Human Rights in Cameroon and will be useful to the population as it if will help them to know how the Commission protect Human Rights, the research will be beneficial to the government as it will help them to reform the Commission to better protect Human Rights and equally, to researchers coming after us on this topic, it will serve as a source of information to them whenever they are conducting research on a similar topic.
The objectives of the study are to examine the role of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights, examine the challenges of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights, propose solutions that could help improve the efficiency of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The results show that the role of the commission is to promote and protect human rights, then to prevent torture in all places of deprivation of liberty, since it now serves as the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture.
The main findings are that the executive has too much influence over the activities and functioning of the Commission, the Commission is underfunded and has limited power.
Due to that, some recommendations were made such as the Executive has to relax the grip over the activities and functioning of the Commission, the government has to provide the Commission with the adequate financial resources and give more power to the Commission for a more efficient promotion and protection of human rights in Cameroon.
The history of human rights merges with the history of man. It reflects its different stages as they have been marked by the evolution of thought in general and by the vicissitudes of praxis that accompany them.
The same religious, philosophical and political thoughts that underlie, analyse or explain the fabric of such a way of life in society are also the basis of human rights. These rights revolve around the ideas that forged and conveyed them, as concepts, and the instruments that expressed and made them effective.
Human Rights have many concepts from where it originated, but it started some two thousand years ago from the religious background, where Human rights was enacted in the 10 commandments and also in the Hammurabi Code, where the law was in charged to protect the strong from oppressing the weak.
It was also seen in the works of saint Thomas Aquinas, when he was talking about the theory of natural rights. He mentions that, if a country is found not protecting the rights of its citizens, there should be non-respect of territorial boundaries by other countries to see how these rights can be protected.
There was also the contribution of Medina of 1622 AD, which was drafted by Mohammed to bring families together, Christians, Muslims and pagans, for them to come together and protect human rights.
This issue of human rights can be traced through the earliest codification, that was enacted in England by Magna Carta of 1215, which took into consideration a number of human rights and principles to protect the rights of the English citizens and also, the contribution of the 1688 German Tow Quaker, who petitioned against the act of slavery.
Also, the contribution of the British Bill of Rights, which made the government not to carry out certain acts which were against the protection of Human Rights and also, the contribution of the US Declaration of 1776 revolution Act, kicking against the violation of human Rights.
The evolution of Human Rights can also be witnessed in the French revolution of 1789, and the US revolution of 1776, which led to the French Declaration and the US Declaration of independence respectively.
The 1789 Declaration, together with the 1215 Magna Carta, the 1689 English Bill of Rights, the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, and the 1789 United States Bill of Rights, inspired in large part the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1948. Motivated by the experiences of the preceding world wars, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was the first time that countries agreed on a comprehensive statement of inalienable human rights.
In line with that, the UN rapidly worked and put in place several international instruments and institutions with the ultimate goal geared towards human rights promotion and protection.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was followed by more than 70 international treaties, including the important international covenant on civil and political rights and that on economic, social and cultural rights of 1966.
At the turn of the century, it is important to distinguish three major classifications of human rights: the first generation rights, which are civil and political rights, which protect the individual as such (the right to life, to religious freedom, etc.); Second generation rights which are economic, social and cultural rights, which aim to guarantee access to a certain number of benefits (right to work, right to social security, etc.) and “third generation” rights, which are intended to serve the international community as a whole (protection of the environment, of world heritage, for example).
The Republic of Cameroon gained membership in to the UN on the 20th of September 1960. As such duly approved or ratified treaties and international agreements pursuant to Section 45 of the Constitution are applicable in Cameroon, so to the required standards.
It is in the same vein as the above that the Cameroon Constitution has wholly adopted and incorporated some international instruments without any dilution, notably of which are the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The end of the 20th century is characterized by the phenomenon of the internationalization of human rights. Indeed, under the instigation of the UN, an important work of codification of these rights was carried out within the framework of international law, the States being constantly reminded of their duty to rally to it.
It was therefore reaffirmed at the second world conference on human rights held in Vienna in 1993, that “it is the duty of States, whatsoever the political, economic and cultural system, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
From the creation of the Commission of human rights, the United Nations recommended to all the States to set up “local committees” responsible for disseminating human rights internally.
Subsequently, the need to better frame these rights on a practical level led the international community to encourage States to create national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights or to strengthen them if they existed already.
But it was not until the end of the 1980’s and especially the 1990s to see the creation on both sides, in sub-Saharan Africa, of the first institutions of this nature, at a time when the population demanded more democracy and freedoms.
It is in this context that Cameroon saw the creation by Presidential Decree in 1990, of the National Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms.
At the same time a number of laws have been enacted to improve the exercise of various freedoms such as: the National Communication Council, abbreviated as NCC, created by law N° 90/052 of December 19, 1990 on the freedom of social communication, its organization and functioning is governed by Decree N° 2012/038 of January 23, 2012 reorganizing the National Communication Council; the creation by law N° 2000/016 of December 19, 2000 of a National Election Observatory, replaced by Elections Cameroon by law N° 2006/011 of December 29, 2006 as amended by Law N° 2019/005 of April 25, 2019 amending and supplementing certain provisions of Law N° 2012/001 of April 19, 2012 on the Electoral Code( ELECAM).
However, many deficiencies and insufficiencies pushed the legislator to reform the National Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms in 2004, by Law N° 2004/016 of July 22, 2004 relating to the creation, organization and functioning of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms. We thus went from the “Committee” to the “Commission”.
Despite this, there is a negative correlation between human rights commitments and their actual protection. Various independent international and domestic human rights organizations have noted Cameroon’s poor human rights record, particularly in the civil and political rights category.
There are reports of pervasive human rights abuses such as extra-judicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and suppression of political freedoms.
The persecution of political opponents, journalists and human rights activists is a cause for concern. the same goes for socio-economic rights. Reason why the latter Cameroon Human Rights institution was also reformed by Law N° 2019/014 of July 19, 2019 relating to the creation, organization and functioning of the Cameroon Human Rights Commission.
We thus embarked in this research to see whether the current reform can enable the Commission to efficiently protect Human Rights.
The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms (human rights) has always been on a negative trajectory in Cameroon. As far back as President Ahidjo’s regime, reports of massive human rights violations, including torture and suppression of political freedoms were not uncommon.
Under President Biya, efforts were made to broaden the scope of human rights and improve institutional protection mechanisms.
This was the mark of the 1990s when a number of laws, more widely known as the laws of liberty, were enacted to improve the exercise of various freedoms and to regulate the maintenance of public order and a state of emergency.
The 1990s also saw a new addition to human rights with the creation of the National Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms to complement the role of the judiciary in the protection of human rights. Other initiatives have included the creation of a human rights directorate at the Ministry of Justice with responsibilities for the protection and promotion of human rights.
The state has also been adept at ratifying international human rights instruments; thus, joining the community of States expressing an interest in strengthening human dignity.
With the same aim of effectively protecting human rights in Cameroon, the legislator reformed the National Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms by Law N° 2004/016 of July 22, 2004 relating to the creation, organization and functioning of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, and recently by Law N° 2019/014 of July 19, 2019 relating to the creation, organization and functioning of the Human Rights Commission of Cameroon.
Despite all these, there is a negative correlation between human rights commitments and their efficient protection. Various independent international and national human rights organizations have noted the weakness of human rights protection in Cameroon.
Widespread human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and the suppression of political freedoms. The persecution of political opponents, journalists and human rights activists is a source of concern.
In addition, the Cameroonian populations show a low knowledge of their economic, social, civil and political rights, as well as a limited understanding of their roles, rights and responsibilities as citizens; Yet the government’s stated policy, however, is to treat the three generations of human rights equally, reflecting the interdependence of all human rights.
Despite all these efforts, we are increasingly witnessing multiple human rights violations in Cameroon. This is a glaring sign that Human Rights Commission has been inefficient.
This is why we are carrying out this study which consists of examining the new Cameroon Human Rights Commission in order to know whether it will able to efficiently protect human rights in Cameroon after the new reform in 2019.
A research question is a specific inquiry which the research seeks to provide a response to. It resides at the core of systematic investigation and it helps you to clearly define a path for the research process. In this project, I will be answering the following questions:
- What is the role of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights?
- What are the challenges of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights?
- What are the solutions that the new institution can use to promote and protect human rights in Cameroon efficiently?
This dissertation is aimed at the following objectives:
- Examine the role of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights;
- Examine the challenges of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the protection of Human Rights;
- To propose solutions that could help improve the effectiveness of the new Cameroon human rights commission in the promotion and protection of human rights.