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Cameroon: Ensure the protection of defenders ahead of the upcoming general elections

At the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report for Cameroon, ISHR, the Cameroonian Network of Human Right Organisations (RECODH) and the Pathways for Women Empowerment and Development (PawED) delivered a joint statement calling on Cameroon to protect defenders ahead of the general elections in February 2025.

Cameroon accepted 220 recommendations out of the 291 recommendations received during its 4th cycle of the UPR. The delegation explained that it noted recommendations related to the decriminalisation of homosexuality because they were not in line with the social, political and cultural realities in the country. On decriminalisation of abortion, the delegation indicated that there was a code that outlined the cases where abortion can be administered in exceptional cases. In terms of the death penalty, the delegation justified that Cameroon had implemented the moratorium making it de facto inactive. Though it has been misused against defenders in some cases, the delegation maintained that the 2014 Terrorist Act was still relevant to repress the terrorist acts in the country as is.

 In a joint statement, ISHR, alongside the Pathways for Women Empowerment and Development (PawED) and the Cameroonian Network of Human Rights Organisations (RECODH) stressed their concerns over the death threats, harassment and acts of intimidation faced by defenders particularly in the North and South-West regions.

‘It is important for the government to guarantee the protection of human rights defenders ahead of the general elections scheduled for February 2025,’ remarked Joseph Désiré Zebaze, Coordinator of the Cameroonian Network of Human Rights Organisations.

Ahead of Cameroon’s UPR, in April 2023, ISHR, the Cameroonian Network of Human Rights Organisations (RECODH), and the Pathways for Women Empowerment and Development (PawED) submitted a UPR briefing paper that outlined the risks and violations faced by defenders in Cameroon, such as arbitrary arrests and detention, harassment, enforced disappearances and killings. 

 Therefore, ISHR, the Cameroonian Network of Human Rights Organisations and the Pathways for Women Empowerment and Development called on Cameroon to:

  • Pursue the revision of the 2014 Anti-Terrorism Act, ensuring that no law is used or misused to criminalise or otherwise hinder the work of human rights defenders.
  • Ensure that the application of national laws designed to guarantee public security and public order do not disrupt defenders in the exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly. 
  • Conduct prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigations into all threats and attacks against defenders.

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