Stop the human rights violations in the South-west and North-west regions of Cameroon now: A call on all relevant stakeholders

Authors: Basiru Bah, Essa Njie, Theophilus Michael Odaudu and Urerimam Raymond Shamaki on behalf of the 2018 class of the Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa (Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria)

Basiru Bah Essa Njie Theophilus Odaudu Urerimam
Raymond Shamaki

For the Centre for Human Rights latest press release on the human rights violations in Cameroon, please visit www.chr.up.ac.za/StopCameroonViolations

Since 2016, the human rights situation in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon has been deteriorating. It all started with peaceful protests organised by lawyers, teachers and students in the region demanding the appointment of Anglophone Cameroonians to key positions in the judiciary, civil service and educational institutions. The state responded with brutal force killing at least 10 people and injuring hundreds. This crack down increased agitation in the region and further calls for reform and even secession. The government militarised the area and conducted series of operations against protesters killing even more people. Amnesty International has reported arson attacks, torture, incommunicado detentions, arbitrary and extra-judicial executions, murder and other inhumane acts against civilians. These atrocities are committed by both the Cameroon security forces and armed separatist movements. The end of 2017 to date has seen more than 150,000 people being internally displaced and over 20,000 fleeing to neighbouring Nigeria in the wake of increased violence in the region. Cameroon is edging closer to civil war every day as the world watches in silence.

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Building alliances between IDAHOT and MaputoProtocol@15 for womxn

Author: David Ikpo
Nigerian lawyer and storyteller with a Master of Laws in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa

IDAHOT: The international Day Against Homophobia Transphobia and Biphobia
Maputo Protocol: Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa
Womxn: No set definition. This term, as used in this piece, refers to a broad still unraveling category of persons of female gender who voluntary identify, live, express their gender crossing stereotypical roles and standards, embracing her  several cross-cutting circumstances and layers of identity, recognizing the humanity and diversity in her community, operating, demanding, believing in and working towards the substantive equality(equity) of all sexes and genders and against the repressive confines of the poisonous glorification of masculinity at the expense of the human rights of persons of female gender in all spaces. A feminist.

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Violence against women and girls in Africa: A global concern to ponder on International Women’s Day and beyond

Author: Kennedy Kariseb
Doctoral candidate, Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria

It has been four decades since the United Nations (UN) observed for the first time International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 1975. Although there are traces of celebration of this day, dating as far back as 1909, its formal initiation came in the wake of the first World Conference of the International Women’s Year that took place in Mexico City, Mexico. Its object, as aptly argued by Temma Kaplan, is to mark ‘the occasion for a new sense of female consciousness and a new sense of feminist internationalism’.[i]

In a sense, 8 March is meant to be a day of both celebration and reflection for women the world over: a celebration of the gains made in enhancing women’s rights and the overall status of women globally, while reflecting and strategising on the voids and shortcomings still persistent in the women’s rights discourse. The occasion of the forty-third celebration of the IWD clearly marks an opportunity for feminist introspection on the broader question of violence against Women (VAW) and its regulation under international law. This is because while VAW is not the only form of human rights abuse women suffer, it is one in which the gendered aspect of such abuse is often the most clear and pervasive.

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The unclear relation between Angola and its Muslim citizens and migrants: Is Angola discriminating against them?

Author: Cristiano d’Orsi
Research Fellow and Lecturer at the South African Research Chair in International Law (SARCIL), University of Johannesburg

 Angola is a country where the traditional Islamic relation between Muhajirun (‘immigrants’) and Ansar (‘helpers’: locals)[1] seems not to find a fertile ground. Islam in Angola represents a minority religion, with an estimate number of proselytes amounting to approximately 1%[2] of the entire population.[3] These are mostly Sunnis who arrived in Angola from West Africa,[4] Somalia[5] and from families of Lebanese descent[6] following the end of the Angolan Civil War in 2002.

Historically, as many of these immigrants entered Angola illegally, which created the misperception of associating Islam with illegal immigration and crime (almost predominantly counterfeiting of money and money laundering), although barely any evidence of this has been proved.[7] This was affirmed by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief on her visit to the country in 2007.[8]

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94 mental health patients in Gauteng: A lesson for State parties to the CRPD – A classic case of a poor deinstitutionalisation process

Author: Patricia Mwanyisa
Consultant – Human Rights and Access to Justice

As South Africa took time to celebrate its annual human rights day on March 21, this year (2017) the deaths of the 94 patients in Gauteng Province in a space of under a year should not be forgotten. The provincial government of Gauteng took the decision to remove persons with psychosocial and intellectual disabilities from government health institutions to reduce spending on their healthcare. The implementation process was poorly planned, rapidly executed and chaotic.  The move had fatal and disastrous consequences as it not only contravened national and international law, but also proved cruel and inhumane. The record shows 94 lives were lost, families have been severely traumatised and a healthcare support system regardless of whether it was the most ideal or not was shaken to its knees.

Apart from violating domestic law – the National Health Act 61 (2003) and the Mental Health Care Act 17 (2002)) – as a State party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), among other international instruments, there are several frameworks that were contravened by South Africa. This case provides an opportunity for some serious learning for South Africa (SA) as well as other African States. Learning from previous mistakes is vital for progress. Focus should be directed on how to avoid making similar mistakes in the future. It is probably more important to provide guidance to State parties or governments when they have made mistakes as opposed to the naming and shaming – particularly after the fact. To be productive, however requires the state or those in power to accept responsibility, acknowledge their mistakes and be receptive to the guidance. Ultimately, objectively and substantively unpacking the critical aspects or points at which things went wrong in the Gauteng saga from an international human rights perspective would be beneficial for the planning and implementation of these types of projects or programmes in the future.

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South Africa’s intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Time to seriously consider an African alternative?

rodger_owisoAuthor: Rodger Owiso
LLB – Nairobi, PGD Law – KSL

While the decision by South Africa to commence the formal process of withdrawing from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is shocking, honest observers will admit it was not entirely unforeseen. African countries through the African Union (AU) have long voiced misgivings about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and it was just a matter of time before the usually slow-moving AU clock started ticking. The AU had earlier this year urged its members to consider withdrawing from the Rome Statute.[1] This was triggered by the refusal by the United Nations Security Council and the ICC to accede to the AU’s requests for suspension or termination of the cases against Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto.

While South Africa’s decision should be condemned, nothing much is likely to come of such condemnation. Treaties are a product of state consent[2] and it follows that withdrawal is equally a unilateral act of the state.[3] Even if an argument could be advanced against such unilateralism, the process is still a political one which rests almost entirely with the political class, at least in imperfect democracies. South Africa’s move is likely to embolden other African countries to commence similar processes. South Africa is Africa’s biggest economy and the AU’s largest member contributor. It is also arguably one of Africa’s better-off imperfect democracies. For these reasons, it is often the case in continental affairs that other African countries hold on to their cards until South Africa plays after which they emerge from their cocoons and play theirs in more or less similar fashion. With the possible exception of ‘righteous’ Botswana and perhaps Mauritius that considers itself African only when the situation suits it, the possibility that other African countries will follow South Africa’s lead on the ICC cannot be ruled out. In light of such possibility, how then does Africa assure its citizens that the fight against impunity as is entrenched in its founding instrument[4] is still top of its agenda, if at all it ever was?

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