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Human Rights Defenders Want Independent Anti-Corruption Coalition 

By Daniel Gwarbarah

Some 46 human rights defenders drawn from eight of the ten Regions of Cameroon have resolved to establish an independent anti-corruption and human rights coalition. This was one of the resolutions that came out of a three-day capacity building workshop that ended in Yaounde on July 21.

The training was organised by the Foundation for Human Rights and Development, FHRD.
The training focused on the philosophical foundation and the historical evolution of human rights; international human rights institutions and legislation; and national human rights institutions and legislation.

In a debate that ensued, administrators dealing with electoral registers; election managers; authorities managing public finances; the security forces and prison administrators were identified as the leading violators of human rights in Cameroon. Resource persons at the workshop came from Cameroon’s universities, international NGOs, the legal profession and from the civil society.

The task given the coalition, according to a press release issued by the Executive Director of FHRD, Afanyi Ngeh, it has to collect and disseminate data on human rights and levels of corruption-related behaviour in Cameroon; co-ordinate legal and other assistance to victims of corruption and human rights abuse as well as organise periodic training to members of the civil society organisation in the country. The participants also urged government to enact legislation which protects human rights defenders, researchers and anti-corruption whistle blowers from arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, blackmail and extra-judicial killings.

They also called on government to take appropriate measures to ensure the respect of human rights in Cameroon’s penitentiary and other detention centres as well as the respect of the new Criminal Procedure Code by members of the judicial police and armed forces. Addressing participants at the start of the workshop, Afanyi hailed government for efforts geared towards enacting legislation to govern the promotion and protection of human rights and liberties.

He, however, observed that much still has to be done as far as the application of legislation is concerned and said the workshop was the first in a series that would progressively put in place committed human rights volunteers to work towards the establishment of genuine human rights and democratic culture in the country. Afanyi condemned fellow members of the civil society who endlessly criticize government but at the same time are embezzling funds acquired for social, developmental and humanitarian purposes.

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