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Cameroonians Should File More Cases Before International Human Rights Bodies 

By Ndode N. Nkumbe Esq, Bochum, Germany

Cameroonians Should File More Cases Before International Human Rights Bodies
In 1998, Cameroon was singled out as the only State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that had complied with the recommendations on individual communications of the African Commission, the body set up to monitor the implementation of the Charter (Pagnoulle (on Behalf of Mazou v. Cameroon).

This revelation was made in a discussion document entitled African Commission: A legal Approach, Doc/OS/50b (XXIV), 1999 in which the Commission expressed its dissatisfaction with the attitude of ignoring its recommendations on individual complaints by States parties. It should be recalled that the Commission is not a court that issues binding decisions on parties who file communications before it.

It can therefore merely issue recommendations to state parties and not orders. As the Commission does not have any follow-up mechanisms to its recommendations, implementation of its recommendations on individual communications depends on the moral authority of the Commission and on the state’s moral responsibility to right the wrong it has done by compensating the victims and or taking other measures to stop and prevent a recurrence of the admonished acts.

It is also in record that Cameroon compensated late Albert Mukong following a decision of the Human Rights Committee to his favour against Cameroon. These however are not the only decisions by international human rights bodies against Cameroon for individual communications filed before them.

While there is a dearth of information on what happened after the recommendations of the treaty bodies, one could submit that unless there has been a volte face in Cameroon’s policy towards her acclaimed respect for the recommendations of these bodies, victims of the various communications should have reason to believe the  wrong they suffered will be righted.

Cameroon’s compliance with these recommendations is a positive development that should encourage victims of human rights abuse who have not found a local remedy to file communications before these bodies. The sluggishness of our courts is not in dispute. Also, it is no secret that ruling-party officials go away with violations as in the case of the murderers of late Kohtem.

Unfortunately, these complaint mechanisms and their procedures appear little known to the Cameroonian public, lawyers and human rights civil society groups in Cameroon. It is submitted that when Cameroonians use these mechanisms more frequently, that would cause the government to revisit its attitude to the protection of its citizens. 

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