Cameroon’s human rights violations under the microscope in time for the UPR
IWGIA has supported its partners in Cameroon to produce a background information paper to be used in relation with the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Cameroon on May 1. The UPR reviews the human rights records of each UN member state, with each state being assessed once every four-and-a-half years. States have the opportunity to present reports on steps they have taken to improve domestic human rights situations and how they have followed up on recommendations made at previous reviews.
Other countries are able to be part of reviewing the state in question and NGOs have the opportunity to submit stakeholder reports and produce background information papers prior to the UPR review. Such reports and papers can be used for lobby purposes towards states participating in the UPR review. Cameroon is a country known for its ethnic diversity with 280 tribes and a population of about 20 million inhabitants where some groups identify themselves as indigenous peoples. Two of the largest groups of indigenous peoples in Cameroon are the Mbororo pastoralists, numbering about 1 million people, and the Pygmies, estimated to be about 44,000 people. The background paper provides a number of recommendations regarding indigenous peoples’ rights, following on from recommendations which the Government of Cameroon accepted after the previous review in 2009. Particular issues concerning indigenous peoples in Cameroon include their right to land and resources, where illegal land grab, forced displacement and limited access to natural resources are key issues. The paper calls for improvements to indigenous peoples’ civil and political rights. Pygmies are treated as possessions by neighboring Bantu people, and abductions of teenage girls for sex trafficking is a threat to the Mbororo. There, agro-industrial billionaire Baba Ahmadou Danpullo has had girls kidnapped from their schools and homes and locked up in his residences for many years. Lack of access to justice and participation in decision making processes for indigenous peoples are also civil rights concerns. Access to healthcare is the other issue outlined in the paper. Indigenous peoples do not have equitable access to health care due to physical and financial barriers – they either live very far away from health care centres or cannot afford the care. Both pygmies and pastoralists are known to resort to help from missionaries or their own traditional medical knowledge rather than the healthcare sector where they are considered as backward and thus discriminated by the staff at the hospitals. The paper was produced by a network of indigenous peoples’ organisations, consisting of: · The African Indigenous Women Organisation, Central African Network (AIWO-CAN) · The Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association (MBOSCUDA) · Centre d’action pour le développement durable des autochtones. Pygmées. (CADDAP). · Planète Survey, Environnement and Développement The paper has been submitted to more than 20 Permanent Missions in Geneva.