Committee Against Torture Examines Report Of Cameroon

The Committee against Torture yesterday afternoon completed its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Cameroon on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Presenting the report, Anatole Fabien Nkou, Permanent Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva, presented an overview of measures taken by Cameroon to fight torture and ill-treatment and to implement the Committee’s previous recommendations. 
The fight against torture and ill-treatment was one of the main priorities of the Government in the context of its fight against Boko Haram, the serious humanitarian situation, and social tensions linked to the situation in the north-west and south-west of the country. In that respect, of particular importance was the adoption of the National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights 2015-2019, which focused on the protection of the life and physical and moral integrity of persons.
In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts welcomed Cameroon’s acceptance of the simplified reporting procedure, and its commitment to combat prolonged pre-trial detention, to increase the number of courts and legal personnel, to address prison overcrowding, and to improve detention conditions. 
However, Experts raised concern about allegations of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances that had taken place in the context of the fight against Boko Haram, and the use of excessive force when dealing with the crisis in the English-speaking regions of the country. 
They also voiced concern about delayed ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention, lenient sentences for the crime of torture, the independence of the special division for the monitoring of the police force, the use of secret detention centres and military courts as part of the anti-terrorist struggle, detainees’ access to legal aid and independent medical examinations, payment of bribes to avoid long pre-trial detention, forcible refoulement of Nigerian refugees on the pretext that they were members of Boko Haram, and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders. 
Other issues raised were female genital mutilation and other traditional harmful practices, the rivalry between the executive and judicial branches, domestic violence, prison overcrowding, juveniles in detention, and mechanisms for compensation of victims of torture or ill-treatment.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Nkou commended Committee Experts for the quality of the dialogue. He expressed hope that the links forged with the Committee would be maintained.
Jens Modvig, Committee Chairperson, reminded the delegation of the 48 hour-deadline to submit written replies to questions that were not answered.
The delegation of Cameroon included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Police, and the Permanent Mission of Cameroon to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

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