Cameroon

 

  • Adjournment of Civil Society Activists’ Trial in Cameroon Shows State Has No Case

    JOHANNESBURG – Three civil society leaders in Cameroon remain imprisoned in solitary confinement and on trial for leading peaceful protests, following their court appearance on 27 July.

    The trial of Felix Balla Nkongho, Fontem Neba and Mancho Bibixy in a military court in the capital, Yaoundé, was adjourned for the third time since it began over six months ago. The activists face various spurious charges, some which, like treason and terrorism, carry the death penalty. A fourth activist, Justice Ayah Paul Abine is being held incommunicado at the Secretariat for Defense while hundreds of others remain detained at the Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé. 

    The activists were arrested in January 2017 after publicly raising concerns against the marginalisation of Cameroonians in the country’s Anglophone North West and South West regions, by the Francophone regime of President Paul Biya. They had called for the reforms in the legal and education system. Their organisation, the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), has been banned. 

     “We strongly condemn the ongoing arbitrary arrests and unjustified prosecution of individuals opposing the atrocities in defiance of human rights standards. The international community has a responsibility to help end the cycle of persecution in Cameroon.”  Said Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at CIVICUS:

    The trial itself has been marked by irregularities and a lack of due process. In the latest proceedings, the judge began by kicking one of the defence attorneys out of court. The defence team’s representations in English were also mistranslated into French by the court interpreter.  In addition, the judge claimed that the state was not aware of the trial of the activists. 

    CIVICUS also expresses growing concern at the deepening human rights crisis. Reports of human rights violations in the Anglophone regions include the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters; arbitrary arrests; detention without trial; torture; legal harassment and unjust prosecutions; the targeting of journalists and media outlets; and the shutdown of the internet for months. 

    We call on the Cameroonian authorities to release all detained protesters and ensure that democratic rights to freedom of expression and assembly are respected. 

    We further call on the international community to increase efforts to engage the Biya regime to find lasting solutions to the conflict. We particularly urge the United Nations to intervene on behalf of barrister Nkongho, who has served the UN as a human rights and legal advisor to the UN Mission in Afghanistan, and the other activist leaders on trial. 

    Note: Civic space in Cameroon is rated as “repressed” by the CIVICUS Monitor, a global tracking tool of violations against the freedom of expression, association and assembly.

    Ends.

    For more information, contact:

    Grant Clark

    CIVICUS Media Advisor

     

  • Advocacy priorities at 42nd Session of UN Human Rights Council (September)

    The forty-second Session of the UN Human Rights Council will take place from 9 to 27 September.

    There are a variety of issues on the agenda this Session, both thematic and country-focused, and a number of human rights concerns that need to be addressed by the Council.

    One of the priorities for CIVICUS and its members is the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Despite a deal reached between the military and protesters in August, peaceful protesters continued to be killed on an almost daily basis. We join calls from local and international civil society for the Council to take immediate action to investigate and monitor human rights violations as a first step towards accountability and justice. The country is rated as closed on the CIVICUS monitor, representing its total lack of civic space and freedoms.

    Saudi Arabi, also rated as closed, remains a serious ongoing concern as the country continues its decades-long clampdown on dissent, human rights activism and independent reporting. Women human rights defenders are still detained, and reportedly subjected to torture, for leading campaigns for women’s rights. In October 2018, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was extra-judicially murdered. CIVICUS, along with partners, will reiterate calls on the Council to establish a monitoring mechanism investigating human rights violations in the country and call for the immediate and unconditional release of the detained Saudi women human rights defenders and activists. Saudi Arabia is a member of the Human Rights Council. Members that flagrantly abuse human rights in their own territories undermine and delegitimise the work of the Council and should be held to higher standard of scrutiny.

    Cameroon, rated as ‘repressed’ in CIVICUS’s Monitor, continues to undergo a human rights crisis. In October 2016, protests in Cameroon’s two minority English-speaking regions, the North-West and South-West, triggered the country’s “Anglophone crisis.” Since then, the two regions have been embroiled in a cycle of violence and human rights violations and abuses committed by government forces and by separatist armed groups. Against this backdrop, space for civil society continues to be severely diminished, and we call on members of the Council to take constructive steps to address the situation.

    The Commission of Inquiry investigating human rights violations in Burundi will present its findings on the human rights situation in the country. We join calls for the HRC to renew the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry for a further year: with human rights violations ongoing, and 2020 elections approaching, ongoing scrutiny is crucial – particularly in the context of elections. Burundi is rates as ‘closed’ in CIVICUS’s Monitor, reflecting ongoing attacks on civil society members, human rights defenders and journalists.

    The Council’s spotlight will also fall on Cambodia when both the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia and the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights will deliver reports on the situation in the country. Civic space in Cambodia has been increasingly under attack – the country is rated as ‘repressed’ in CIVICUS’s monitor – and this Session will provide a crucial opportunity for the Council to strengthen its response to such attacks on fundamental freedoms, and other human rights violations. CIVICUS and our partners are calling for the Special Rapporteur’s mandate to be renewed, and for enhanced scrutiny of the country’s human rights obligations by the OHCHR.

    The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights will be reporting on the human rights crisis in Nicaragua, which the CIVICUS Monitor rates as ‘repressed’. Monitor findings show that freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly continue to be seriously curtailed by the government. Local civil society organisations have been stripped of their legal status and of their assets, and human rights defenders and journalists are harassed. Nicaragua continues to block the return of international human rights bodies to the country, including the special mechanism of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and OHCHR. CIVICUS joins local and international partners calling for continued scrutiny of Nicaragua’s human rights situation.

    The Assistant Secretary General on reprisals will present a report the Council, and the resolution on reprisals will be presented for a vote to the Council members. We are calling on states to support a strong resolution which names specific examples of reprisals, including against CIVICUS members. This is a vital resolution because UN action is only possible with strong engagement from civil society on the ground, who not only provide information and analysis, but are on the front line of ensuring that human rights standards are respected by their own governments, and that violations are held to account.

    A resolution on arbitrary detention will also be presented to the Council. This is a critical issue in terms of civic space: civil society members worldwide continue to face arbitrary detention as a result of their work. As well as being a serious human rights violation in its own right, this also contributes to a chilling effect on other civil society actors and human rights defenders.

    CIVICUS and members’ events at the 42nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council:

    Civic space as an early warning system, 16 Sep, 1-2pm, Room IV

    This side event will explore the relationship between civic space crackdowns and broader human rights crises, with a view to discussing what potential early intervention from states and the Council could be taken on the basis of such attacks to elevate the Council’s preventative mandate and, ultimately, aim to stop countries spiraling into human rights crises.

    The continued silencing and imprisonment of Saudi women human rights defenders, 26 Sep, 9.30-10.30am, Room XXIV

    This panel will share the experiences of Saudi WHRDs and reflect on the reality they face in prison. Panelists, including Lina Al-Hathloul, the sister of detained human rights defender Loujain Al-Hathloul, will discuss the extent of the restrictions facing activists in Saudi Arabia and what further efforts can be taken internationally to ensure immediate release of WHRDs, including calling for a resolution from the UN Human Rights Council.

    Current council members:

    Afghanistan; Angola; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bahamas; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Brazil; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Chile; China; Croatia; Cuba; Czechia; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Denmark; Egypt; Eritrea; Fiji; Hungary; Iceland; India; Iraq; Italy; Japan; Mexico; Nepal; Nigeria; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; Qatar; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Slovakia; Somalia; South Africa; Spain; Togo; Tunisia; Ukraine; United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and Uruguay.

     

  • As the climate crisis intensifies, so does the crackdown on environmental activism, finds new report

    New research brief from the CIVICUS Monitor examines the crackdown of environmental activism and profiles important victories civil society has scored in the fight for climate justice.

    • Environmental protests are being criminalised and met with repression on all continents
    • State authorities and private companies are common perpetrators of violations to civic freedoms
    • Despite the risks and restrictions, activist groups continue to score important victories to advance climate justice.

    As world leaders meet in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Negotiations (COP26), peaceful environmental activists are being threatened, silenced and criminalised around the world. The host of this year's meeting is one of many countries where activists are regularly facing rights violations.

    New research from the CIVICUS Monitor looks at the common tactics and restrictions being used by governments and private companies to suppress environmental movements. The research brief “Defenders of our planet: Resilience in the face of restrictions” focuses on three worrying trends: Bans and restrictions on protests; Judicial harassment and legal persecution; and the use of violence, including targeted killings.

    As the climate crisis intensifies, activists and civil society groups continue to mobilise to hold policymakers and corporate leaders to account. From Brazil to South Africa, activists are putting their lives on the line to protect lands and to halt the activities of high-polluting industries. The most severe rights abuses are often experienced by civil society groups that are standing up to the logging, mining and energy giants who are exploiting natural resources and fueling global warming.

    As people take to the streets, governments have been instituting bans that criminalise environmental protests. Recently governments have used COVID-19 as a pretext to disrupt and break up demonstrations. Data from the CIVICUS Monitor indicates that the detention of protesters and the use of excessive force by authorities are becoming more prevalent.

    In Cambodia in May 2021, three environmental defenders were sentenced to 18 to 20 months in prison for planning a protest  against the filling of a lake in the capital. While in Finland this past June, over 100 activists were arrested for participating in a protest calling for the government to take urgent action on climate change. From authoritarian countries to  mature democracies, the research also profiles those who have been put behind bars for peacefully protesting.

    “Silencing activists and denying them of their fundamental civic rights is another tactic being used by leaders to evade and delay action on climate change” said Marianna Belalba Barreto, Research Lead for the CIVICUS Monitor. “Criminalising nonviolent protests has become a troubling indicator that governments are not committed to saving the planet .”

    The report shows that many of the measures being deployed by governments to restrict rights are not compatible with international law. Examples of courts and legislative bodies reversing attempts to criminalise nonviolent climate protests are few and far between.

    Despite the increased risks and restrictions facing environmental campaigners, the report also shows that a wide range of campaigns have scored important victories, including the closure of mines and numerous hazardous construction projects. Equally significant has been the rise of climate litigation by activist groups. Ironically, as authorities take activists to court for exercising their fundamental right to protest, activist groups have successfully filed lawsuits against governments and companies in over 25 countries for failing to act on climate change.


    DOWNLOAD REPORT

     

  • Cameroon elections promise more trouble, not solutions for Anglophones

    By Teldah Mawarire, Campaigns and Advocacy Officer and Ine van Severen, Civic Space Research Officer

    For nations in crisis, free and fair elections usually can bring much-needed reprieve. Voting offers hope and chance to end strife and conflict. We’ve seen this in recent times in countries like The Gambia, The Maldives and Malaysia, where increasingly autocratic presidents were booted out of office at the ballot box by fed-up voters.

    Read on: The Government and Business Journal

     

  • Cameroon: End crackdown, release detainees and resolve crisis

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS urges an end to the pervasive crackdown against English speaking Cameroonians as three respected civil society members - Barrister Felix Agbor Balla, Dr Fontem Neba and Mancho Bibixy - are due to appear before a Military Tribunal in the capital Yaoundé on 23 March 2017.

     

  • Cameroon: UN action is needed to address human rights crisis

    Joint letter

    To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland)

    Multilateral action is needed to address the human rights crisis in Cameroon


    Excellencies,

    We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are deeply concerned over ongoing grave human rights violations and abuses in Cameroon. Ahead of the Human Rights Council’s (“HRC” or “Council”) 47th session (21 June-15 July 2021), we urge your delegation to support multilateral action to address Cameroon’s human rights crisis in the form of a joint statement to the Council. This statement should include benchmarks for progress, which, if fulfilled, will constitute a path for Cameroon to improve its situation. If these benchmarks remain unfulfilled, then the joint statement will pave the way for more formal Council action, including, but not limited to, a resolution establishing an investigative and accountability mechanism.

    Over the last four years, civil society organisations have called on the Government of Cameroon, armed separatists, and other non-state actors to bring violations and abuses to an end. Given Cameroonian institutions’ failure to deliver justice and accountability, civil society has also called on African and international human rights bodies and mechanisms to investigate, monitor, and publicly report on Cameroon’s situation.

    Enhanced attention to Cameroon, on the one hand, and dialogue and cooperation, on the other, are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually reinforcing. They serve the same objective: helping the Cameroonian Government to bring violations to an end, ensure justice and accountability, and fulfil its human rights obligations. In this regard, the establishment of cooperation between the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Government of Cameroon, following High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s May 2019 visit to Yaoundé, and building on the capacity of the OHCHR Regional Office for Central Africa (CARO), is a step forward.

    However, since a group of 39 States delivered a joint oral statement to the HRC during its 40th session (March 2019), and despite the High Commissioner’s visit, the holding of a national dialogue, and OHCHR’s field presence, violations have continued unabated. Some of the violations and abuses committed by Government forces and non-state armed groups may amount to crimes under international law. Impunity remains the norm.

    In the English-speaking North-West and South-West regions, abuses by armed separatists and Government forces continue to claim lives and affect people’s safety, human rights, and livelihoods. The grievances that gave rise to the “Anglophone crisis” remain unaddressed. In the Far North, the armed group Boko Haram continues to commit abuses against the civilian population. Security forces have also committed serious human rights violations when responding to security threats. In the rest of the country, Cameroonian authorities have intensified their crackdown on political opposition members and supporters, demonstrators, media professionals, and independent civil society actors, including through harassment, threats, arbitrary arrests, and detentions.

    Cameroon is among the human rights crises the Human Rights Council has failed to adequately address. Given other bodies’ (including the African Union (AU) and the UN Security Council) inaction, it is all the more vital for the HRC to send a clear message by stepping up its scrutiny and engagement.

    We believe that further multilateral action is needed. At the Council’s 47th session, we urge Member and Observer States to, at a minimum, support a joint statement. This statement should make clear that should Cameroon fail to take concrete steps to investigate human rights violations and abuses, ensure accountability, and improve its human rights situation, more formal action will follow in the form of a resolution establishing an investigative and accountability mechanism.

    A joint statement should:

    • Address violations and abuses committed by Government forces and non-state armed groups in the North-West, South-West, Far North, and other regions of Cameroon, and urge all parties to immediately bring these violations and abuses to an end;
    • Remind the Cameroonian Government of its primary responsibility to protect its population from crimes and human rights violations;
    • Urge the Cameroonian Government, in cooperation with OHCHR and Cameroonian human rights groups, to design and implement a road map for human rights reforms and accountability with a view to preventing further human rights violations and abuses and ensuring accountability as part of a holistic effort to settle the crisis in the country, in particular in the North-West and South-West regions and the armed conflict in the Far North region;
    • In addition to designing and implementing a road map for reforms and accountability, outline concrete benchmarks to be fulfilled by the Government of Cameroon to ensure demonstrable progress on human rights, including by:
    • putting an immediate end to violations committed against members and supporters of the opposition, media professionals and outlets, demonstrators, and members of civil society, including lawyers, union leaders, teachers, and human rights defenders and organisations;
    • releasing prisoners of conscience;
    • fully respecting all Cameroonian citizens’ human rights, including their rights to freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly, and association, as well as the right to life, liberty and security of person;
    • fully cooperating with OHCHR, including granting it unhindered access to the North-West and South-West regions to conduct human rights investigations, monitoring, and reporting;
    • fully cooperating with the Council and its mechanisms, including granting access to special procedure mandate-holders, in line with Cameroon’s Council membership obligations;
    • granting unrestricted access to humanitarian aid and human rights organisations and workers, including restoring access for international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to report on the human rights situation in the country; and
    • engaging with regional bodies and mechanisms, including the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR); 
    • Encourage the High Commissioner for Human Rights to make the findings of the OHCHR 2019 investigations in the Anglophone regions public, and to provide regular updates to the Council, including by holding inter-sessional briefings or informal conversations with Council Members and Observers. These updates should include information about her engagement with Cameroonian authorities, the situation in the country, and OHCHR’s work in the country;
    • Encourage states to enhance their voluntary contributions for OHCHR’s activities, including for the OHCHR Regional Office for Central Africa’s work in Cameroon and Central Africa; and
    • Make clear that should Cameroon fail to take concrete steps to improve its situation and ensure demonstrable progress on human rights by the Council’s 48th session (13 September-1 October 2021), more formal Council action will follow, under the appropriate agenda item.

    We thank you for your attention and stand ready to provide your delegation with further information as required.

    Sincerely,

    1. Africa Call – South Sudan
    2. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    3. Amnesty International
    4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    5. CDDH – Benin
    6. Center for Human Rights Defenders Zimbabwe (CHRDZ)
    7. CIVICUS 8. Club Humanitaire sans Frontières (CHF)
    9. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    10. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) – South Sudan
    11. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    12. Defenders Coalition – Kenya
    13. Dialogue and Research Institute (DRI) – South Sudan
    14. Dignity Association – Sierra Leone
    15. Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone
    16. Franciscans International
    17. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    18. HAKI Africa
    19. HRDSNET Uganda Ltd – Human Rights Defenders Solidarity Network
    20. Human Rights Defenders Network – Sierra Leone
    21. Human Rights Watch
    22. Initiative for Plataforma das Organizações Lusófonas dos Direitos Humanos (POLDH)
    23. International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
    24. International Refugee Rights Initiative
    25. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    26. Kenya Human Rights Commission
    27. National Alliance of Women Lawyers (NAWL) – South Sudan
    28. Network of the Independent Commission for Human rights in North Africa
    29. Nouvelle Génération de la Cinématographie Guinéenne (NOGECIG)
    30. Oasis Network for Community Transformation
    31. Pan African Lawyers Union
    32. Partnership for Justice, Lagos – Nigeria
    33. Protection International – Kenya (PIK)
    34. Raise The Young Foundation
    35. REDRESS
    36. Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour l’Observation et le Suivi des Élections en Guinée (ROSE)
    37. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
    38. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
    39. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
    40. The Independent Medico-Legal Unit
    41. Togolese Human Rights Defenders Coalition / Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH)
    42. Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)
    43. West African Human Rights Defenders Network / Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
    44. Watch Democracy Grow
    45. Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness (WCGLA) – Egypt

    62. 17 additional organisations join this letter, which brings the total number of signatories to 62. In light of the security environment they face, their name is kept confidential.

     

    Civic space in Cameroon is rated as Repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

     

     

     

     

  • Cameroun : L'action de l'ONU est nécessaire pour faire face à la crise des droits humains

    Lettre conjointe

    Aux Représentants permanents des États Membres et Observateurs du Conseil des droits de l’homme des Nations Unies (Genève, Suisse)

    Une action multilatérale robuste est nécessaire pour répondre à la crise au Cameroun


    Madame, Monsieur le Représentant permanent,

    Nous soussignées, organisations de la société civile, sommes gravement préoccupées par les viola-tions graves et persistantes des droits humains au Cameroun. Alors que le Conseil des droits de l’homme de l’ONU (ci-après « CDH » ou « Conseil ») s’apprête à tenir sa 47ème session, du 21 juin au 15 juillet 2021, nous exhortons votre délégation à soutenir une action multilatérale en réponse à la crise des droits humains dans le pays, sous la forme d’une intervention orale conjointe. Cette intervention devrait comporter des indicateurs de progrès qui, s’ils étaient remplis, constitue-raient pour le Cameroun un chemin vers l’amélioration de sa situation. Si, à l’inverse, ces indica-teurs restaient lettre morte, l’intervention orale conjointe ouvrirait alors la voie à une action plus formelle du Conseil, notamment (mais pas nécessairement uniquement) une résolution instituant un mécanisme d’enquête et de redevabilité.

    Au cours des quatre dernières années, les organisations de la société civile ont appelé le Gouvernement du Cameroun, les groupes séparatistes armés et les autres acteurs non étatiques impliqués à mettre un terme aux violations et atteintes aux droits humains1. Compte tenu de l’incapacité des institutions came-rounaises à garantir la justice et la redevabilité, la société civile a également appelé les organes et méca-nismes africains et internationaux de protection des droits humains à enquêter, surveiller et faire rapport publiquement sur la situation au Cameroun.

    Un niveau élevé d’attention au Cameroun, d’un côté, et, de l’autre, dialogue et coopération, ne s’exclu-ent pas mutuellement. Au contraire, ils sont de nature à se renforcer. Ils visent le même objectif : aider le Gouvernement camerounais à mettre fin aux violations, à garantir la justice et la reddition des comp-tes et à remplir ses obligations en termes de droits humains. À cet égard, l’établissement d’une coopé-ration entre le Bureau de la Haute-Commissaire des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme (HCDH) et le Gouvernement du Cameroun, à la suite de la visite à Yaoundé de la Haute-Commissaire, Michelle Bachelet, en mai 20192, et s’appuyant sur les capacités du bureau régional du HCDH pour l’Afrique centrale (CARO)3, est un pas en avant.

    Toutefois, depuis qu’un groupe de 39 États a co-signé une intervention orale conjointe lors de la 40ème session du CDH (mars 2019) et en dépit de la visite de la Haute-Commissaire, de la tenue d’un dialogue national et de la présence du HCDH dans le pays, les violations se sont poursuivies. Certaines d’entre elles, commises par les forces gouvernementales et des groupes armés non étatiques, pourraient être constitutives de crimes de droit international. L’impunité demeure la norme.

    Dans les régions anglophones du Nord-Ouest et du Sud-Ouest, les atteintes perpétrées par les sépara-tistes armés et les forces gouvernementales continuent de causer des pertes en vies humaines et d’af-fecter la sécurité, les droits et les moyens de subsistance des habitants. Les griefs ayant donné naissance à la « crise anglophone » demeurent intacts4. Dans l’Extrême Nord, le groupe armé Boko Haram conti-

    nue à commettre des violations à l’encontre de la population civile. Par leur réponse aux menaces sécu-ritaires, les forces de sécurité ont également commis de graves violations des droits humains. Dans le reste du pays, les autorités camerounaises ont intensifié leur répression des membres et soutiens de l’opposition politique, des manifestants, des professionnels des médias et des acteurs de la société civile, notamment via des actes de harcèlement, des menaces, des arrestations arbitraires et des détenions.

    Le Cameroun fait partie des crises des droits humains face auxquelles le Conseil des droits de l’homme a échoué à formuler une réponse appropriée. L’inaction d’autres organes (notamment l’Union africaine (UA) et le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies), rend d’autant plus indispensable l’envoi par le CDH d’un message clair, qui élève son niveau de surveillance et d’engagement.

    Nous pensons qu’une action multilatérale plus robuste est nécessaire. Lors de la 47ème session du Conseil, nous exhortons les États Membres et Observateurs à soutenir, au minimum, une inter-vention orale conjointe. Cette intervention devrait indiquer clairement que si le Cameroun échouait à prendre des mesures concrètes pour enquêter sur les violations des droits humains, garantir la reddition des comptes et améliorer sa situation des droits humains, une action plus formelle du Conseil s’ensuivrait sous la forme d’une résolution instituant un mécanisme d’en-quête et de redevabilité.

    Une intervention orale conjointe devrait :

    • Répondre aux violations et atteintes commises à la fois par les forces gouvernementales et par les groupes armés non étatiques dans le Nord-Ouest, le Sud-Ouest, l’Extrême Nord et d’autres régions du Cameroun, et exhorter toutes les parties à mettre un terme immédiat à ces violations et atteintes ;
    • Rappeler au Gouvernement camerounais sa responsabilité primaire de protéger sa population des crimes et autres violations des droits humains ;
    • Exhorter le Gouvernement camerounais, en coopération avec le HCDH et les organisations came-rounaises de défense des droits humains, à mettre au point et à appliquer une feuille de route pour les réformes en matière de droits humains et la redevabilité, dans le but de prévenir des violations supplémentaires et de garantir la reddition des comptes, ceci dans le cadre d’un effort global de règlement de la crise que traverse le pays, en particulier dans les régions du Nord-Ouest et du Sud-Ouest, ainsi que le conflit armé dans la région de l’Extrême Nord ;
    • Au surplus, l’intervention conjointe devrait définir des indicateurs de progrès devant être remplis par le Gouvernement du Cameroun afin de démontrer la réalité de tout progrès en termes de droits humains, y compris en :
      • mettant un terme immédiat aux violations commises à l’encontre des membres et des soutiens de l’op-position, des professionnels et organes des médias, des manifestants et des membres de la société civile, notamment avocats, responsables syndicaux, professeurs et défenseurs et organisations des droits hu-mains ;
      • libérant les prisonniers de conscience ;
      • respectant pleinement les droits humains de tous les citoyens camerounais, notamment leurs droit à la liberté d’opinion et d’expression, de réunion pacifique et d’association, ainsi que leur droit à la vie, à la liberté et à la sûreté ;
      • coopérant pleinement avec le HCDH, y compris en lui permettant un accès sans entrave aux régions du Nord-Ouest et du Sud-Ouest, afin qu’il y conduise des enquêtes et un travail de surveillance de la situation et de rédaction de rapports publics ;
      • coopérant pleinement avec le Conseil et ses mécanismes, conformément aux obligations du Cameroun en tant que Membre du Conseil, y compris en permettant aux titulaires de mandats de procédures spé-ciales d’accéder au pays ;
      • fournissant un accès plein et sans entrave aux organisations et aux travailleurs humanitaires et de pro-tection des droits humains – ceci inclut la restauration de l’accès au pays pour les organisations non gouvernementales (ONG) internationales afin qu’elles puissent faire rapport sur la situation des droits humains dans le pays ; et
      • coopérant avec les organes et mécanismes régionaux, y compris la Commission africaine des droits de l’homme et des peuples (CADHP)5.
    • Encourager la Haute-Commissaire aux droits de l’homme à rendre publiques les conclusions des enquêtes menées en 2019 par le HCDH dans les régions anglophones et à fournir des mises à jour régulières au Conseil, notamment en tenant des briefings ou des conversations informelles avec les Membres et Observateurs, entre les sessions. Ces mises à jour devraient inclure des informa-tions sur son dialogue avec les autorités camerounaises, la situation dans le pays et le travail du HCDH dans le pays ;
    • Encourager les États à augmenter leurs contributions volontaires en faveur des activités du HCDH, notamment pour le travail du bureau régional du HCDH pour l’Afrique centrale au Cameroun et en Afrique centrale ; et
    • Indiquer clairement que si le Cameroun échouait à prendre des mesures concrètes pour améliorer sa situation et démontrer des progrès en termes de droits humains d’ici à la 48ème session du Conseil (13 septembre-1er octobre 2021), une action plus formelle du Conseil s’ensuivrait, sous un point de l’ordre du jour approprié.

    Nous vous remercions de l’attention que vous porterez à ces préoccupations et nous tenons prêts à fournir à votre délégation toute information supplémentaire.

    Dans l’attente, nous vous prions de croire, Madame, Monsieur le Représentant permanent, en l’assu-rance de notre haute considération.


    1. Africa Call – South Sudan
    2. AfricanDefenders (Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network)
    3. Amnesty International
    4. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
    5. CDDH – Benin
    6. Center for Human Rights Defenders Zimbabwe (CHRDZ)
    7. CIVICUS 8. Club Humanitaire sans Frontières (CHF)
    9. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI)
    10. Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) – South Sudan
    11. DefendDefenders (East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project)
    12. Defenders Coalition – Kenya
    13. Dialogue and Research Institute (DRI) – South Sudan
    14. Dignity Association – Sierra Leone
    15. Economic Justice Network Sierra Leone
    16. Franciscans International
    17. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
    18. HAKI Africa
    19. HRDSNET Uganda Ltd – Human Rights Defenders Solidarity Network
    20. Human Rights Defenders Network – Sierra Leone
    21. Human Rights Watch
    22. Initiative for Plataforma das Organizações Lusófonas dos Direitos Humanos (POLDH)
    23. International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN)
    24. International Refugee Rights Initiative
    25. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
    26. Kenya Human Rights Commission
    27. National Alliance of Women Lawyers (NAWL) – South Sudan
    28. Network of the Independent Commission for Human rights in North Africa
    29. Nouvelle Génération de la Cinématographie Guinéenne (NOGECIG)
    30. Oasis Network for Community Transformation
    31. Pan African Lawyers Union
    32. Partnership for Justice, Lagos – Nigeria
    33. Protection International – Kenya (PIK)
    34. Raise The Young Foundation
    35. REDRESS
    36. Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour l’Observation et le Suivi des Élections en Guinée (ROSE)
    37. Southern Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (SAHRDN)
    38. South Sudan Human Rights Defenders Network (SSHRDN)
    39. Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC)
    40. The Independent Medico-Legal Unit
    41. Togolese Human Rights Defenders Coalition / Coalition Togolaise des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (CTDDH)
    42. Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)
    43. West African Human Rights Defenders Network / Réseau Ouest Africain des Défenseurs des Droits Humains (ROADDH/WAHRDN)
    44. Watch Democracy Grow
    45. Women’s Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness (WCGLA) – Egypt

    62. 17 organisations supplémentaires se joignent à cette lettre, portant le nombre total de signataires à 62. En raison du contexte sécuritaire auquel elles font face, leur nom demeure confidentiel.

    L'espace civique au Cameroun est classé comme Réprimé par CIVICUS Monitor.

     

  • CIVICUS stands with indigenous peoples and calls for a new social contract

    Global civil society society alliance, CIVICUS, stands in solidarity with  indigenous peoples in celebrating the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on 9 August, which this year is calling for a new social contract that puts the voices, needs and concerns of indigenous peoples at the forefront. 

    Since 1994, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples marks an opportunity to celebrate Indigenous Peoples, and provide an opportunity to raise awareness on critical issues relevant to indigenous peoples.

    Across the world, indigenous peoples marginalised and excluded by governments from participating in public affairs. They routinely face evictions from their lands without compensation, and are currently impacted by the harshest consequences of climate change. Moreover, human rights defenders seeking to protect and promote the human rights of indigenous peoples continue to be killed, intimidated, and harassed for defending their indigenous land and natural resources, and for advocating for the rights of indigenous communities.  

    On 20 April 2021, Liliana Pena Chocue was killed by unidentified individuals in Colombia. In February 2021, two other indigenous rights defenders. Yenes Ríos Bonsano and Herasmo García Grau were killed in Peru. All three were members of Indigenous patrol and forest control groups.

    Across the world, indigenous peoples communities have had their lands appropriated for development projects without their consent. These include the Himba community in Namibia, Biafra Indigenous People of Nigeria, Basarwa in Botswana, Benet and Batwa in Uganda, Ogiek and Endorois in Kenya, to name just a few. 

    The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples gives indigenous peoples the right “to maintain, protect and have access to their ancestral lands, religious and cultural sites. 

    CIVICUS stands in solidarity with indigenous communities across the world that continue to experience human rights violations from state and non-state actors. In this regard CIVICUS supports the demands of Sengwer indigenous people of Kenya to regain their ancestral lands at Embobut. CIVICUS stands with Batwa indigenous peoples in the Great Lakes region, the Baka and Bagyelis in Cameroon who remain vulnerable, marginalised, and landless with no compensation following the eviction from their ancestral lands by their governments.

    “In this period of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, focusing on Sustainable Development, and specifically, its pledge of “leave no one behind”, every stakeholder must ensure that indigenous peoples are not left behind in every process of development, including promoting and protecting their rights, if SDGs are to be effectively achieved,” said Paul Mulindwa CIVICUS’ Advocacy and Campaign’s Lead for Africa.

    As we celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, CIVICUS calls on state and non-state actors to 

    1. Carry out independent investigations into the killings of all indigenous rights activists this year and hold the culprits to account. 
    2. Ensure that the rights and identities of indigenous peoples are recognised and respected at all times 
    3. Ensure that the benefits from commercial or development projects done in their ancestral lands are shared with affected communities 
    4. Empower indigenous peoples and their future generations to break the social, legal, political, and economic barriers that have kept their communities from the benefits of development and transformation taking place in Africa
    5. Guarantee effective consultations with Indigenous Peoples to obtain their free, prior and informed consent for decisions that affect them.
    6. Ensure effective participation and inclusion of indigenous peoples in public spheres.
    7. Promote and protect the land rights of indigenous peoples by ensuring clear land tenure systems that promotes communal ownership.

     

  • CIVICUS urges release of Cameroonian activists

    Global civil society alliance CIVICUS urges the release of recently arrested leaders of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) and all activists and citizens unlawfully detained in a wide ranging crackdown on peaceful protests ongoing since October 2016. 

    “The situation in Cameroon is extremely serious and is being closely followed by the Chairperson of the African Union who has urged restraint and dialogue,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Head of Policy and Research at CIVICUS. “We are deeply concerned about the arbitrary actions of the government and about the well-being of detained, citizens, protestors and civil society members.”

    On 17 January 2017 authorities in Buea, the South West Region, arrested CACSC leaders Agbor Balla and Fontem Neba.  Both were taken to the Military Mobile Intervention Unit, also known as the GMI, in Buea before being transferred to the capital, Yaoundé. There are serious concerns about the well-being and safety of the two civil society members as others arrested under similar circumstances have been tortured, and several remain unaccounted for. 

    Agbor Balla is the President and Fontem Neba is the Secretary General of CACSC, a network of civil society organisations, unions and citizens of Anglophone Cameroon advocating for, and seeking dialogue around, the rights of English speaking Cameroonians. The South West and North West regions are the only 2 Anglophone territories -  the other 8 regions are French-speaking.   The arrest of the two CACSC leaders has been swiftly followed by the arrest of activist Mancho Bibixy, in Bamenda, North West region, shortly after midnight on 19 January 2017.  He has been taken to an unknown destination.

    Since October 2016 citizens, lawyers and teachers’ unions of Anglophone Cameroon have stepped up their efforts to raise concerns over the suppression of the identity of Anglophone Cameroon. They have called for a review of the imposition of civil law practices and civil law trained judges in courts which have common law tradition, as well as raised concerns about the challenges faced by teachers, students and civil servants in Anglophone Cameroon. 

    Over the last three months, security forces have used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters, resulting in several deaths. There are also reports of arbitrary detention and torture while in custody. The whereabouts of several detainees remain unknown. Following the violent response of the authorities towards peaceful protests, CACSC is now coordinating a boycott of schools and academic institutions and a campaign of non-participation in economic, legal and social activities in the two Anglophone regions of Cameron. 

    Cameroonian authorities have responded by imposing power outages and internet blackouts in the North West and South West provinces in order to impede debate on social media and online platforms.  On 10 January 2017, the authorities closed down private radio station Radio Hot Cocoa, accusing it of unethical behaviour for broadcasting Anglophone Cameroonian concerns. The government has authorised aggressive security tactics in the affected regions including the maintaining a high military presence and carrying out of random house-to-house searches, arbitrary arrests and torture of occupants. 

    CIVICUS calls on the international community, including the African Union, the United Nations and the Commonwealth to urgently engage President Paul Biya to resolve the crisis and end violations of democratic rights.

    Cameroon is rated as repressed by the CIVICUS Monitor.

    ENDS 

     

  • Civil Society “Contested and Under Pressure”, says new report

    Read this press release in Arabic, French, Portuguese and Spanish

    Civil society around the globe is “contested and under pressure” according to a 22-country research findings report released by CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, and The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL). The report, Contested and Under Pressure: A Snapshot of the Enabling Environment of Civil Society in 22 Countries, brings together insights from Enabling Environment National Assessments (EENA) conducted around the world between 2013 and 2016.

     

  • Country recommendations on civic space for the UN´s Universal Periodic Review

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 9 countries in advance of the 30th UPR session (May 2018). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations. Countries examined include: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Colombia, Cuba, Djibouti, Russia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan:

    Bangladesh (Individual/Joint): In this UPR, CIVICUS draws attention to a range of legislative restrictions which have been strengthened and imposed to curtail the operation of independent civic groups in Bangladesh. Of particular concern, are new restrictions on groups seeking funds from abroad, as well the repeated use of the penal code to arrest HRDs and place blanket bans on meetings and assemblies. We further examine the spate of extrajudicial killings against secular bloggers and LGBTI activists which is illustrative of Bangladesh’s downward spiral with respect to civic freedoms and systemic failure to protect civil society.

    Burkina Faso (EN/FR): CIVICUS, the Burkinabé Coalition of Human Rights Defenders and the West African Human Right Defenders Network examine unwarranted limitations on freedom of expression and assembly. Despite several positive developments since the popular uprising of 2014, such as the decriminalisation of defamation and the adoption of a law on the protection of human right defenders, restrictions on the freedom of expression including suspensions of media outlets by the national media regulator and attacks and threats against journalists continue.

    Cameroon: CIVICUS, Réseau des Défenseurs Droits Humains en Afrique Centrale (REDHAC) and the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) highlight Cameroon’s fulfilment of the right to association, assembly and expression and unwarranted persecution of human rights defenders since its previous UPR examination.  We assess the ongoing judicial persecution and detention of human rights defenders on trumped up charges, the use of anti-terrorism legislation to target journalists and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.  

    Colombia(EN/SP): CIVICUS highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders, social leaders and unions workers who are routinely subject to physical attacks, targeted assassinations, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors. CIVICUS examines the increased number of attacks against journalists as well as the government’s lack of effective implementation of protection mechanisms to safeguard the work of journalists and human rights defenders.

    Cuba (EN/SP): CIVICUS and the Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) highlight the constitutional, legal and de facto obstacles to the exercise of the basic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. The submission discusses the situation of CSOs, HRDs, journalists and bloggers, who face harassment, criminalisation, arbitrary arrests, searches of their homes and offices and reprisals for interacting with UN and OAS human rights institutions. The submission further examines the multiple ways in which dissent is stifled both in the streets and in the media, offline and online. 

    Djibouti (EN/FR): CIVICUS, Defend Defenders and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submission describes how the government of Djibouti has patently ignored the 14 recommendations made during the second UPR cycle related to the protection of the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression. Instead, in the intervening period, authorities in Djibouti have continued their campaign against dissent, regularly detaining human rights defenders, journalists and trade union activists because of their criticism of the government or human rights activists.  

    Russia: CIVICUS and Citizens’ Watch address concerns regarding the adoption and application of several draconian laws that have resulted in the expulsion and closure of numerous CSOs and restrictions on the activities of countless others. The submission also lays out the increasing criminalisation and persecution of dissenting views by means of growing restrictions, in both law and practice, on the exercise of the fundamental freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. 

    Turkmenistan: CIVICUS highlights restrictions to freedom of association in Turkmenistan including recent amendments to the 2014 Law on Public Associations which further limit CSOs’ ability to register, operate independently and receive funding from international sources. Additionally, we assess the use of the arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of human rights defenders as well as unwarranted limitations to online and offline freedom of expression.

    Uzbekistan: CIVICUS, The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia and the International Partnership for Human Rights assess the conditions of freedom of association, assembly and expression in Uzbekistan. We highlight the lack of progress made in implementing recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle. It particular, we note that although there have been some notable improvements to the environment for civic space, the situation for human rights activists and journalists remains deeply constrained.

     

  • Journalist facing serious charges for reporting amid rising repression in Cameroon

    • Cameroonian journalist was reporting on human rights abuses when detained
    • Charges include engendering state security and cyber criminality
    • Fears of imminent terrorism charges and a trial in military court
    • Present case is the latest in ongoing anti-reporting campaign in Anglophone region

    International civil society is alarmed at the rising incidents of Cameroonian journalists being detained for reporting on human rights abuses in the country’s Anglophone regions.

    In the most recent case, Mimi Mefo Takambou, head of English news for the private TV Channel, Equinoxe was arrested in Cameroon’s largest city, Douala on November 7 after she responded to a police summons. The summons was issued in late October 2018 as part of an investigation into false news and cybercrime offences.

    Takambou faces charges of engendering state security, spreading false news and cyber criminality. The engendering state security charge raises serious concerns that she may will be tried by a military tribunal under Cameroon’s notorious terrorism legislation. Takambou is currently being held at Douala’s notorious New Bell prison.

    The journalist, who also has a blog covering socio-economic and political issues, was summoned by police after publishing information about the killing of American missionary Charles Trumann Wesco near the city of Bamenda in the North West Region on 30 October 2018. Since the start of the Anglophone crisis in 2016, journalists particularly those of Anglophone origin have been subjected to politically motivated prosecutions and jailed following the militarization of the Anglophone regions.

    “The detention of Mimi Mefo and several other journalists is typical of the actions of a rogue regime,” said Mandeep Tiwana, Chief Programmes Officer at global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.

    “In defiance of international norms, Cameroonian authorities are using indiscriminate violence and intimidation to force journalists and ordinary citizens to self-censor amid a growing political crisis and rising human rights violations in the two Anglophone regions,” said Tiwana.

    The state’s targeting of journalists has intensified after disputed presidential elections on 7 October 2018, in which incumbent President Paul Biya claimed victory. This latest case serves to intimidate other journalists against reporting on the Anglophone crisis and post-election developments.

    In the last month alone, at least six journalists have been arbitrarily arrested and are currently detained for coverage of the crisis and the political situation in Cameroon. On October 23, editor of the privately-owned website Hurinews, Michael Biem Tong, was summoned by the Secretariat of the State for Defence in Yaoundé after publishing information critical of the government’s response to the Anglophone crisis. Less than two weeks later, security forces assaulted, arrested and detained journalist Joseph Olinga of le Messager newspaper as part of a crackdown on peaceful protests calling for a vote re-count from the October 7 elections. Gustave Flaubert Kengne, publisher of Orientation Hebdo, a publication that focuses on human rights issues, also remains detained without charge.

    CIVICUS calls on the African Union to urge the Cameroonian government to respect the rights of journalists in line with provisions in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and immediately release Takambou and all others currently held for reporting on human rights violations.

    “It is time for the African union to wake up from its slumber and call on the government of Cameroon to respect the rights of its citizens,” Tiwana said.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates the space for civil society in Cameroon as repressed. Cameroon is also on the Watch List of the Monitor.

    ENDS

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    Ine Van Severen

    Facebook: facebook/civicusalliance

    Twitter: @CIVICUSalliance

     

  • Las elecciones en Camerún auguran más problemas, no soluciones para los anglófonos

    Por Teldah Mawarire, responsable de campañas y de incidencia política e Ine van Severen, responsable de investigación del espacio cívico

    Para las naciones en crisis, las elecciones libres y justas pueden traer un alivio muy necesario. Votar ofrece esperanza y la oportunidad de poner fin a los conflictos. Hemos visto esto en los últimos tiempos en países como Gambia, Maldivas y Malasia, donde presidentes cada vez más autocráticos fueron expulsados de sus cargos en las urnas por el hartazgo de los votantes.

    Lea el artículo en inglés en: The Government and Business Journal

     

  • Six countries added to watchlist of countries where civic freedoms are under serious threat

    • Bangladesh, Maldives, Cameroon, DRC, Guatemala, Nicaragua join global watchlist
    • Escalating rights violations include killings, attacks on protesters, media, opposition
    • Neighbours, international community must pressure governments to end repression

    Six countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa have been added to a watchlist of countries which have seen an escalation in serious threats to fundamental freedoms in recent weeks and months.

    The new watchlist released by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society across the globe, identifies growing concerns in Bangladesh,  Maldives, CameroonDemocratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Activists and civil society organisations in these countries are currently experiencing a severe infringement of civic freedoms, as protected by international law.

    Violations include brutal attacks by police on peaceful protests in Nicaragua and Bangladesh; the murder of human rights defenders in Guatemala; the killing of protesters and a brutal state campaign against activists and the political opposition in the DRC; and the prosecution of human rights defenders and journalists on fabricated charges in Cameroon, amidst an escalating civil conflict.

    “It is deeply concerning to see escalated threats to basic rights in these countries,” said Cathal Gilbert, CIVICUS Civic Space Research Lead.

    “It is crucial that these six governments wake up to their failure to respect international law and take swift action to respect their citizens’ most basic freedoms in a democratic society,” Gilbert said.

    “We also call upon neighbouring states and international bodies to do put pressure on these countries to end the repression.”

    Over the past year, authorities in Bangladesh have used repressive laws to target and harass journalists and human rights defenders, restrict freedom of assembly and carry out the enforced disappearances of opposition supporters. The human rights situation has deteriorated further ahead of national elections scheduled for late 2018. Members of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling party Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), have attacked student activists, academics and journalists with impunity.

    In Nicaragua, at least 300 people have been killed since protests began in April 2018, with hundreds more kidnapped or missing. The demonstrations were initially sparked by regressive changes to the social security system but grew to include calls for President Daniel Ortega to resign in the wake of his brutal repression of peaceful protests. While large-scale marches have subsided in recent days, some continue amid a tense political situation as the Ortega government continues to silence critics despite agreements struck with international bodies, and an undertaking to allow an IACHR investigation into the violence. Attacks on protestors are perpetrated both by state forces and armed groups aligned with the government.

    This year, between January and July alone, at least 18 human rights defenders (HRDs) were killed in Guatemala. There were also two assassination attempts and 135 other attacks, with 32 of those aimed at women HRDs. In early August, United Nations Special Rapporteurs issued a statement raising the alarm at the spike in killings in 2018. Reports from Guatemala indicate that the space for civil society has worsened due to land disputes and actions by corporate interests, the source of targeted violence against specific groups of activists.

    Despite the announcement that Congolese president Joseph Kabila will not run for a third term, tensions are still high in the DRC, ahead of scheduled elections in December.  In recent months, protestors, youth movements, human rights defenders, journalists and the political opposition have all faced widespread state repression, including arrests. In June this year, CSOs and UN Special Rapporteurs expressed serious concerns about a planned new law that would give authorities power to dissolve non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over public order or national security concerns.

    In Maldives, a widespread crackdown on dissent began in February 2018 when a court ordered the release of opposition leaders. This decision led to the arbitrary arrest of judges, scores of opposition politicians and activists as well as the use of unnecessary force by police to disperse peaceful demonstrations. There are also documented cases of people being ill-treated in detention. With elections due on 23rd September 2018, civic space is likely to become increasingly contested. Already in May 2018, the Electoral Commission moved to bar four opposition leaders from running in the upcoming presidential elections.

    In Cameroon, an escalating conflict in the country’s Anglophone regions between armed separatists and the government has sparked a mounting humanitarian crisis. It began as protests in 2016, resulting in state repression of protests and the arrest and prosecution of protest leaders. The conflict intensified in recent months with killings and human rights violations committed by both sides. At least 100 civilians, 43 security officers and an unknown number of armed separatists have reportedly been killed, according to an International Crisis Group report. NGOs and human rights defenders have also been targeted.

    In the coming weeks, the CIVICUS Monitor will closely track developments in each of these countries as part of efforts to ensure greater pressure is brought to bear on governments. CIVICUS calls upon these governments to do everything in their power to immediately end the ongoing crackdowns and ensure that perpetrators are held to account.

    ENDS.

    For more information, please contact:

    Cathal Gilbert

    Grant Clark

     

  • Statement to the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights: Countries on the civic space watchlist

    37th Session of the Human Rights Council
    Oral statement at Interactive Dialogue with UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

    CIVICUS commends the High Commissioner for his report, and for his commitment to standing alongside victims of the world's most egregious human rights violations by continuously bringing attention of their plight to this Council.

    Mr President, CIVICUS shares the High Commissioner's grave concern over growing restrictions on civic space in Cambodia, Cameroon, Poland, Tanzania and Honduras. We note that these five countries have been placed on the CIVICUS Monitor's Watch List, which draws attention to countries where there are serious and ongoing threats to civic space.

    In Cameroon, reports of renewed violence against protesters have emerged as the authorities have shut down internet access in Anglophone regions of the country. The government has also taken sharp measures to control and limit freedom of expression by suspending journalists’ activities and radio and television stations’ operations.

    In the run-up to Cambodia’s 2018 general elections, the government has attempted to silence the opposition and suppress civic space, shutting down independent media and arresting activists. Repression of dissenting voices makes it highly unlikely that elections will take place in a transparent and democratic manner.

    Poland’s current trajectory has caused grave concern as the government seeks to restrict civil and political freedoms and control the judiciary and civil society organisations. Worringly, a new body closely related to the office of the president has been created to control the flow of funding to civil society organisations, which could result in only pro-government groups being funded.

    Peaceful protests following Honduras´ recent elections, which were criticised by the opposition and international observers, were met by security forces using excessive force. Several protesters were killed and many others injured and arbitrarily detained.

    Tanzania has remained on the Monitor Watch List and CIVICUS echoes the High Commissioner’s concern over the authorities’ unrelenting attacks on the media, civil society and the LGBTI community in particular.

    Mr President, restrictions on civic space are often a bellwether for further violations of human rights and allow states to act with impunity. CIVICUS asks the High Commissioner how his office intends to support local civil society fighting for human rights on the ground to respond to this global crackdown.

     

  • Statement: Civil society rights violations on a global scale

    35th session UN Human Rights Council
    General Debate
    20 June 2017

     

    In Egypt CIVICUS expresses its serious concern over the issuance of Law 70 of 2017 which further restricts space for human rights monitoring, advocacy and reporting. It introduces hefty fines and prison terms for civil society groups who publish a study or report without prior approval by the government, thus shutting out completely the independent voice and action of human rights organizations.  

    We urge the Egyptian authorities to repeal this Law, end the ongoing criminal investigation into the work of human rights defenders and create a safe and enabling environment for civil society free from reprisals.

    CIVICUS condemns in the strongest terms the recent killings of five peaceful protesters on 23 May in Bahrainand asks for an independent, impartial investigation. We further deplore the escalation in government reprisals against Bahraini civil society, including those living in exile for their cooperation with the United Nations and this Human Rights Council. We urge the Bahraini government to release all political prisoners and human rights defenders from their degrading, torturous detention, including prominent defender Nabeel Rajab. 

    In Cameroon, the government has imposed gross restriction on the rights to free speech and assembly. Beginning on 17 January 2017, the Government blocked all access to the internet in the sections of the North and Southwest regions in a blatant attempt to suppress widespread protests against government policies marginalizing the English-speaking population.  While the recent precipitous decline in respect for ongoing human rights violations has garnered some international attention, CIVICUS asks the Council for more robust scrutiny to prevent further human rights violations and restore fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly.

    Finally, CIVICUS continues to urge the government of Ethiopia to allow access to an international, independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the deaths resulting from excessive use of force by the security forces and other violations of human rights in the context of last year’s protests. 
     

     

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