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Corruption Increasing In Cameroon 

By Edith Lukong
A report by the National Commission of Human Rights and Freedoms, NCHRF, on the human rights situation in Cameroon in 2012, observes among major challenges increase in corruption. 
According to the report launched on December 19 at the Yaounde Conference Centre, corruption has increased and has assumed a greater magnitude, despite Government efforts towards curbing the ill. 
The reports reads: “Despite the recent establishment of the Special Criminal Court as well as prosecutions against certain individuals who once served in high positions within the Government, the phenomenon of corruption has remained on the increase and even assuming a greater magnitude.”
The report cites surveys by Transparent International, TI, and other local NGOs which put the police, judiciary, financial authorities, education and administrative authorities in charge of land and health issues, as most affected sectors.
The report further indicates that: “The creation of the National Agency for Financial Investigation, NAFI, and the National Anti-Corruption Commission, CONAC, as well as ministerial units to fight against corruption has not helped matters. Corruption has gone on the increase, to a point of becoming an accepted phenomenon and in the eyes of the public, a common phenomenon that can no longer be eradicated”.
The report explains that symptoms of corruption are experienced in everyday life. Common corruption practices include; referring patients from public hospitals to private clinics run by doctors who receive wages in the State budget and healthcare personnel demanding cash for care. 
Other symptoms include the encouragement of land disputes by allowing for irregular land registration, demanding higher amounts than required by official rates set for the issuance of certificates at the court registry, courts indiscriminately granting damages greater than required for actual offence and tax officials extorting exorbitant amounts from economic operators as they routinely brandish threats of punishment.
Additional symptoms are; demanding cash for recruitment into primary and secondary public schools, sale of examination questions, issuing of falsified documents such as birth certificates, driver’s license, identity cards and passports, exchanging money for issuance of diplomas or certificates of success in examination, buying admissions into higher State training institutions and harassing road users by setting up many police or gendarmerie checks that are, indeed, ineffective and useless, considering that these checks focus more on extorting money than checking security and thereby creating the impression of a country in a permanent State of emergency.
Increase Salaries 
For an effective and efficient fight against corruption, the NCHRF proposes that various administrative offices should draft visitor’s guides. 
The Commission proposes also for an upward revision of salaries of civil servants and State agents, the sharing of leaflets explaining procedures in Government offices accompanied by stated time limits for treating of files, the setting up a one-stop deposit and withdrawal of files in each service to forestall direct contact between agent and user, the systematic initiation of disciplinary actions against officials convicted of corruption, the integration of the UN Convention against Corruption in the national legal corpus that criminalises illicit amassment of wealth and the implementation of Article 66 of the Constitution on the declaration of property and assets.
Other measures include the promptness of the courts to handle cases of corruption and misappropriation of public funds, the taking of steps to ease acquisition of movable and immovable property by civil servants and State agents, the introduction of incentives to encourage honesty and morality in Government offices, use of systems of promotion and reclassifications with immediate financial incidence on the salaries of public officials, administration’s continuous career assessment, the follow-up of records of retirement and the payment of pensions with respect for the rights to human dignity.
Other challenges highlighted in the economic, social and cultural rights include the shortages of potable water and frequent electricity cuts and circulation with the consequence of many social, economic and heath damages. 
Other preoccupations include poor compensation subsequent to evictions provoked by heavy construction works, high cost of education as opposed to the free education determined for basic education level, difficulties related to the supply and high cost of consumer commodities and problematic issues of domestic workers. 
More Abuses
Additional challenges are unemployment as well as difficulties to freedom of the press, access to information, insufficient funding and harsh working conditions for journalists. Yet, others include difficult access to healthcare and the empowerment of refugees. 
In the rights of specific groups, challenges such as violence against persons with disabilities, older persons, children and women are persistent. 
The report shows that child labour persisted and sexual violence on children continued, whereas practices such as battery were exercised on women. Inadequate penitential infrastructure, understaffed prisons, overcrowded prisons, inadequate healthcare and nutrition of detainees and recurrent judicial bottlenecks are other tasks requiring great attention.
The civil and political rights show that the violations on security of persons and property, the right to fair trial, illegal arrests and detentions described in 2011 did not really improve in 2012. Many capital murders and deadly attacks were registered. Problems on the rights to identity such as the right to nationality as well as the non-limitation of term of office which gives room to permanent re-eligibility and hampers democratic change of political power were mentioned.
Key challenges with regards to special issues include torture: cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment such as slavery and human trafficking observed at the Laquintinie Hospital in Douala with desecration and disappearance of corpses at the mortuary. 
Another is the protocol issue of the NCHRF which accords it the status of an association or NGO. This protocol, which originated from the decree of 1990, should be reorganised by a constitutional provision considering the fact that the NCHRF is one of the rare national human rights institutions in Central Africa to be accredited status “A” by the UN International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions.  
NCHRF Chairperson, Dr. Divine Chemuta Banda, pointed out that efforts need to be reinforced, especially in the area of economic, social and cultural rights. 
He said much more still has to be done towards enhancing the living standards of the population in Cameroon. 
To boost the challenges for an effective and sustainable culture of human rights in Cameroon, he said: “Individual and collective awareness is required through the inclusion of the ‘human rights-based approach’ in policies and budgets of various national actors.”
He, however, remarked that progress was made in 2012 as regards the right to vote and participate in the management of public affairs. Some of the successes include the introduction of the biometric system in the management of electoral process in order to reinforce credibility of results and the adoption of a single electoral code that better simplifed, rationalised and popularised the rules of the election game. 
Another achievement is the creation of the National Communication Council to enforce ethical rules and tidy the communications environment.
Other successes include Government efforts in managing the floods that occurred in the northern, East and Northwest Regions and the decrease in road accidents from 100 deaths per month in 2011 to 84 deaths per month in 2012, as stated by the Secretary of Defence for National Gendarmerie. 
The NCHRF 2012 Activity Report was also launched, which highlights activities on the protection and promotion of human rights such as the handling of complaints filed, self-referral of violations noted during human rights monitoring, awareness-raising activities, capacity building, commemoration of human rights days, partnerships with stakeholders, communication and cross-cutting activities.
The 15th Ordinary session of the NCHRF also took place on December 20, with deliberations on its 2013 activities, 2014 draft budget and 2014 action plan.
 

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