Status: public and civil society discussions

Currently, Cameroon does not have a protection policy for human rights defenders (HRDs or defenders). Civil society has been flagging the context of insecurity of human rights defenders in Cameroon, calling for a specific law for the protection of human rights defenders. A draft law was developed and presented to the Senate in 2022. To date, no further action has been taken regarding this bill. Armed violence in the context of Cameroon’s civil continues to endanger the working environment of human rights defenders.

Civil society organisations have been flagging attacks faced human rights defenders in the country, and human rights institutions have been calling upon the government to develop a protection policy (like the UN in 2020). Civil society has been lobbying for the adoption of a protection law since 2020. In 2022, a draft law was developed in collaboration with civil society actors and submitted to the Senate by senate member Pierre Flambeau Ngayap. To date, no further steps have been taken with this bill. In the meantime, defenders may rely on more general laws to protect their activities, such as Law No. 90/052 on freedom of social communication, Law No. 90/053 relating to the freedom of association and Law No. 90/055 fixing the regime of gatherings and public demonstrations.

Cameroon is monitored by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (UNSR). Although no country visit has yet been made or scheduled to Cameroon, the UNSR annual reports flag cases of long-term detention (par. 41, 85), criminalization, intimidation (p. 8) and abduction (par. 76) of human rights defenders. The UNSR published several communications on cases of abuse of defenders in Cameroon. The African Union Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders also follows the situation of HRDs in Cameroon and called for the release of political prisoners in 2019.

Cameroon is also monitored through the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR). In its last report from 2018, the State of Cameroon mentions the adoption of two acts regarding electronic communication and audiovisual activities, but does not mention any action taken by the state specifically regarding the protection of human rights defenders. Feedback on the report by States included concerns regarding violence against human rights defenders. Cameroon accepted and supported general recommendations regarding human rights defenders, but merely noted the recommendation to adopt specific legislation to protect them.

CIVICUS monitor classifies Cameroon as “repressed”, which means that “civic space is significantly constrained”. Concerns include killings of journalists criticizing the government and violence and repression against LGBTQI+ defenders.

Updated on 01/01/2023

Nkafu Policy Institute
This publication was published by the Nkafu Policy Institute in January 2023. It includes an analysis of legal protection measures...