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Human Rights and Torture in Cameroon Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Akwalla Johanness, Canada Dec 22, 2007
Culture , Human Rights , Education   Opinions
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Torture is a serious violation of human rights and is strictly prohibited by international law. As the issue of torture strikes at the very heart of the civil and political freedom, it becomes the first issue that was dealt with by the United Nations in its Development of Human Rights standard.
For decades, a whole network of Human Rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of Human Rights and to confront Human Rights violations where ever it occurs.
In Cameroon, instruments like the balanḉois used in the police and gendarmes are not strange to the public. Most time, we forget about domestic torture and concentrate only on states organize torture. What are the instruments that guarantee freedom from torture? What is the government doing to combat torture? The role of the media, the civil society in combating torture?. The United nation Human Rights treaties and the UDHR are vital instruments to combat torture and guarantee basic fundamental Rights and freedom. When you talk of torture, the tendency is for us to limits ourselves to the physical. These are easily noticed through Laceration, bruises, and even death of the victim. But torture goes beyond battering, seeking information by using unconventional method or cruel and brutal manner with which people are treated. Torture is psychological, traumatic, it is dangerous. Torture takes away lives it disorients, and it has delibilitatiing consequences on any Human being who has experience it in any of its form. Torture in all it’s form is criminal, it’s implication a many it is grave and very serous variation of the right of the human person. Torture is a traumatizing experience with incalculable and psychological consequences. Life can never be the same again for those tortured and their families. The dignity, intergrety, and self confidence of the concerned are damage through the humanization of the person. I know of people who have withdrawn into their shells because they were raped or given inhuman beating (public punishment especially when a thief is court by the public), or because of anything that treathens life or its live ability.
According to the convention against torture the word means “any act by which servere pains or suffering whether physical or mental is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purpose as obtain from him or a third person, information or a confession punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or suspected of having committed or intimidating or coercing him or a third person or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity”. Apart from the public manifestation of torturous act by the police, the Gendarmerie, and other public officials in Cameroon, torture could be inflicted on person in our homes, schools and where ever, a human being has authority over others and would misuse such authority to inflict pain or mental anguish. Inspired of some hopes in the Cameroonian system the intension today is to seek solution on how to combat torture. Services directly concerned are the force’s of law and order prison administrative official, the civil society and to a greater extend the media. The role of the media is primordial. The state has an obligation to protect its citizens from being molested especially by those who are suppose to keep the peace and protect individual integrity and dignity. Torture should not be condoned. No matter the economic social and political situation a country finds itself government should train and sensitized all those are orone to getting involved with groups of people or individuals on matters of torture. Recognizing it obligation Cameroon rectified the U N convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman Treatment on December-19-1986 but the convention it self enters into force on June 26 1987 . By rectifying the convention, the state of Cameroon took an engagement to assist by its stipulation which includes:
1. The recognition of the right of its people which is derived from the inherent dignity of the human person.
2. Promoting universal respect for and observance of human right and fundamental freedom.
3. Adhering to the provision that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel in human treatment or punishment (this is still far to be proven).
4. Having the desire to make more effective, the struggle against torture or other cruel inhuman treatment or punishment
Torture in all it forms has existed in Cameroon and still exists. People are being molested by the police and Gerdarmes especially if it has been arranged behind the door. People are arrested without arrest warrant and even beaten up when they try to resist. Text do exist calling for it’s prohibition as we Cameroonians are aware, text are not what is lacking. We never the less needs a strong political will to implement the stipulation of the text. The ratification of international convention should not just be window dressing. It should be a commitment taken to put in place a system that would bring satisfaction and relief to every one. It would be hypocritical for Cameroon to brandish laws and convention where as its adherence to them is tentative. Torture is inhuman; it is criminal, it is dehumanizing, it is humiliating. Torture is deadly. Associations NGO’s, churches must joint in the fight against it. The state must not be left alone in this struggle as it has already eaten deep into our society.

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Akwalla Johanness

I am a young development activist who believes that for youths to be successful, we need to come together and share ideas that are beneficial to the whole of humanity.
I strongly believe that for Africa to come out of the political hostage its finds itself, our leaders must stop to consider themselves as traditional rulers. We all know that traditional rulers rule for life, and power is passed on to their descendant. And I think that once our leaders stop to think of themselves as such and concentrate on development by investing into the education and basic health care and social services, then can we say we are on the right path to human development.
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