The mission took place from 13 to 19 September, 1998 and was conducted
by Commissioner E.V.O. Dankwa.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Believing very much in dialogue with governments, and not confrontation as the Commission does, it is gratifying to note that my visit has contributed to this relationship between the Commission and the government. The belief is that this dialogue will be strengthened so that together we can work towards strengthening protection of human rights in Africa generally and particularly in Cameroon.
The suggestions and recommendations which follow, therefore, are not meant in any sense to question either the authority or integrity of anyone, group of persons or institution in Cameroon. They are made in good faith stated and for the good just stated.
- While noting and commending the Government of Cameroon for all the important steps which it has taken since His Excellency President Biya assumed office towards protection of the rights of the people of Cameroon, the government is encouraged to continue on this path.
- The promised State Report of Cameroon to the Commission is eagerly awaited, and the government is encouraged to maintain close contact with the Commission. It should not hesitate to make the Commission aware of any difficulty it may encounter in its effort at promoting and protecting human rights.
- While expressing gratitude for the in-depth paper, of law enforcement operations in the far north of the country presented to me at the Ministry of Interior, allegations of extra-judicial executions are worthy of investigation. A list of alleged victims transmitted from the Secretariat of the Commission to me, and handed over by me to the Minister of Justice could be a starting point in such an inquiry.
- I was gladdened by the control over the police presented to me at certain official circles. However, this perception is not shared by all sectors of society in Cameroon. The worrying perception that some members of the Police Service are a law unto themselves is worthy of being confronted and dealt with.
- Cameroon offers a shining example of how there can be unity in Africa. Francophones and Anglophones are living in harmony and unity, and this is as it should be. Indeed, an Anglophone, Mt. John Fru Ndi nearly became the Head of State in a predominantly Francophone state. The Commission does not and cannot as a matter of policy support the destabilisation of any State Party. All those intent on this course should know that there can, therefore, be no succour from the Commission. Consequently, peaceful and lawful means for redressing grievances of marginalisation heard from certain quarters particularly the North-Western province should be resorted to. The dialogue between government, political parties and civil society which the Minister of Foreign Affairs mentioned in his presentation of the human rights situation in Cameroon should be kept alive and employed to deal with any smouldering discontent that may exist in the North-West province or anywhere else in the country.
- The freedom of expression that the print-media enjoys should be preserved and enhanced. On their part, newspapers should endeavour to present items and facts as accurately as possible.
- Pressures on the time of investigative officers are no doubt real and the need for painstaking inquiry is admitted, but efforts should be intensified to complete the investigations of those detained from the time of the violent disturbances in March 1997 so that they can be given an early trial and the innocent set free.
- The gap between the law and the practice is generally present so attention should constantly be addressed to bridging it especially in the area of human rights.