Title Cameroon: Blatant disregard for human rights
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 16 September 1997
Country Cameroon
Topics Arbitrary arrest and detention | Criminal justice | Freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment | Freedom of expression | Human rights activists | Human rights and fundamental freedoms | Opposition | Persecution based on political opinion | Political parties | Political situation | Pre-trial detention | Prison or detention conditions | Security forces
Citation / Document Symbol AFR 17/016/1997
Reference Amnesty International is a worldwide voluntary movement that works to prevent some of the gravest violations by governments of people's fundamental human rights. The main focus of its campaigning is to: free all prisoners of conscience people detained an
Cite as Amnesty International, Cameroon: Blatant disregard for human rights, 16 September 1997, AFR 17/016/1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a98818.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
Comments Fundamental human rights are persistently violated in Cameroon. In many cases these violations occur when the law is deliberately ignored or contravened by the authorities. There is little accountability for human rights violations and the perpetrators generally act with impunity. Hundreds of critics and opponents of the government, in particular members and supporters of opposition political parties, journalists, human rights activists and students, have been harassed and assaulted, arrested and imprisoned. Torture and ill-treatment by the security forces of both political detainees and common-law prisoners is routine. Some victims have died as a result of injuries inflicted while in custody. Others have been killed when the security forces have used what appeared to be excessive lethal force. Conditions in Cameroon's prisons amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and result in a high mortality rate. More than one hundred prisoners are reported to be under sentence of death; the first execution since 1988 was reported to have taken place in January 1997. Detainees are often held beyond the legal limit allowed by law before being brought before a judicial authority to be either charged or released. In other cases legislation allowing administrative detention has been used to detain critics and opponents of the government without charge or trial and without the right to challenge their detention before a court. Where the courts have ordered the release of political detainees, the administrative authorities have in some cases refused to comply with the court's ruling. Often there are serious irregularities in judicial procedures in cases brought against government opponents. A revised Constitution which was signed into law in January 1996 did little to strengthen the independence of the judiciary. In addition to violations of the law by government authorities, there is also widespread abuse by traditional rulers, who act with the tacit approval of the government. Traditional rulers, in particular in the north of Cameroon, continue to detain illegally and ill-treat political opponents. Amnesty International is making specific recommendations for urgent and effective measures to end systematic violations of human rights in Cameroon. It is calling on the Cameroon Government: to end harassment and detention of its critics and opponents solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and of association; to introduce safeguards to protect all detainees and prisoners from torture and ill-treatment; to maintain strict control on members of the security forces to ensure that indiscriminate, excessive and lethal force is not used; to improve life-threatening prison conditions; and to abolish the death penalty. Amnesty International is also calling on the international community, including the United Nations, the Organization of African Unity, the Commonwealth and the European Union, to seriously scrutinize violations of human rights in Cameroon and to take effective measures to ensure that Cameroon adheres fully to its human rights commitments.
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