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Monday, September 19, 2016

Cameroon Prison Administrators Told: Protect Inmates’ Human Rights!

   By Josepher Mbako  Zakah*
   The Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice in charge of Penitentiary Administration, Doh Jerome Penbaga, has reiterated the importance of Human rights promotion and protection in Cameroon prisons.

       Mr. Penbaga laid the emphasis in Buea, last Friday September 16, during the graduation and epaulet-award ceremony of some 389 trainees from the National School of Penitentiary Administration, ENAP Buea, which he chaired.

Graduates( kneeling) receive epaulets from officials
 He noted that one of the functions of prison administrators is never to torture inmates, but rather to help transform and prepare them for social reinsertion in society.

      The Secretary of state, who hailed the various categories of graduates, implored them to be assiduous and disciplined to attract more successes in their career.

    “The force of any armed forces is discipline. The Penitentiary Administration is   enriched by 389 staffers. We are grateful because the work in the field is too much”, he told the press, noting that the graduation of the trainees came shortly after Cameroon adopted a new penal code, with alternative imprisonment terms.Mr. Penbaga assured that once the text of application for the new modalities is available they will be respected.

     He said the specialization by ENAP trainees in domains such as health and agriculture is in line with Cameroon government’s resolve to professionalize penitentiary administration and rehabilitate the 79 prisons in Cameroon.

    “These personnel with different specialties besides increasing the manpower in our prisons have contributed strongly in  the realization of various rehabilitation works   in the 79 prison establishments that are operational in the country”, the Secretary of State said

       For her part, Administrator-General of Prisons and ENAP Director Mrs. Fonkem nee Immaculate Manyi Fofung,   congratulated the graduates, urging them to serve and remain good ambassadors of the school.

      The 389 graduates were of seven   different batches: the 8th Batch of Trainee Administrators of Prisons, 14th Batch of Trainee-Superintendent of Prison, the 7th Batch of Student-Administrators of prison, the 2nd Batch of Student-Administrators of prison civil engineers, 8th Batch of student superintendents of prison, 3rd Batch of student superintendent of prison state-registered nurses and 10th Batch of student -prison warders.

      Chief warder Mr. Nkelewa Christian told The Recorder that, the  ENAP graduates are expected to be  job-placed two weeks after their passing out from the school.

     Some dignitaries who witnessed the colorful graduation included Southwest Governor Bernard Okalia Bilai and the mayor of Buea,Ekema Patrick.

*Josepher Mbako Zakah is a University of Buea Journalism intern

                                                                                                                    


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cameroon:Justice Ayah visits detained SCNC activist Oben Maxwell

The Persecution of Oben Maxwell

Hon.Lord Justice Ayah Paul
A human rights’ organization, JUSTICE4ALL, sent a team to the Buea Central Prison  on  September 9, 2016, to visit Oben Maxwell. 
     One of the organization’s lawyers did offer  to seek legal redress for Oben who has been in prison custody since February 2, 2014 – upwards of 30 months; whereas, by Camerounese law, such custody should not exceed six months…
     Low-spirited and with waning sight, Oben was utterly depressed that schools have reopened but his children are all out of school. He sobbed that one of his daughters is marrying without his even knowing the date of ceremony. And all these odds against him without his knowing what his crime is, or why, if any crime he has committed, the case against him cannot be heard.
     He informed the team that when his case last came up on August 30, the court did not as much as sign any warrant to bring up prisoner. That means that he is not aware of the next appointed day. His apprehension is that he may join the many who have been in custody in perpetuity because their cases have lapsed from the current cause lists.
     The team, led by the founder of JUSTICE4ALL, Justice Ayah Paul gave him assurance that they would contact his counsel to pursue the matter. The question remains though: why is Oben Maxwell in custody in perpetuity? And that begs the further question as to why any case against cannot be heard and determined within the law.
     Some learned person somewhere may wish to edify us on why we should not view this as organized persecution?

Source:Justice4all Secretariat
--

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 Feast of Tabaski: Buea Muslims told to shun corruption


                                      
The Imam of  Buea Central Mosque and some local  administrators  in familly picture

By Josepher Mbako Zakah*
 Muslims in Buea, Monday September 12, celebrated the Feast of Tabaski under the theme “SACRIFICE”   with a call by the Imam of Buea Central Mosque Mohammed Abubakar on them to shun corruption, which he said is the root of poverty and to remain obedient servants of God.
     The Imam also prayed for peace to continue reigning in Cameroon and called on celebrants to be advocates of peace, noting that Islam is a religion of peace.

     The Feast of the Ram is celebrated annually among Muslims world-wide and it is a moment of great merriment.

Highlight of the celebration is the slaughtering of  bulky rams in remembrance of Abraham’s sacrifice to God.

      The Muslims shared their slaughtered rams with their families, neighbors and the poor.

      This feast is considered very important as it reminds Muslims of the special position of sacrifice in the Muslim community and it is also a call for Muslims to pay lesser attention on worldly values and rather focus totally on God’s commandments; for this is what Abraham did when all he needed from God was a son and even when he was given that son he did not hesitate when God asked him to sacrifice him (Ishmael); but he was only stopped by God himself.

      According to Imam of Mile 17 and Molyko in Buea, Dr. Ibrahim  such an important feast  makes them feel as new-born  and free from sin and iniquity after it celebration ,conscious that man’s heart inclined towards worldly things. I

     The Imam then advised Muslims worldwide: “Be ready…and free yourselves from the shackles of this world. And concentrate on Allah alone.”

   According to the Imam of Buea , President of the Council of Imams  and Muslim dignitaries, Mohammed Abubakar,  this feast signifies obedience to God’s order -as has been legislated and is in three dimensions: the spiritual, the moral and the social.
Muslim Women at the prayer ground in Buea
 He said the moral part compels an individual to follow instructions as given which will go a long way to making that person a law-abiding citizen, while socially, the symbolic meat slaughtered on this day is shared with the poor as God is neither in need of meat nor blood.

  The Secretary-General in the Southwest Governor’s office Clement Fon Ndikum,among other regional dignitaries, joined  the Buea Muslims in the celebration.

*Josepher Mbako  Zakah is a University of Buea Journalism Student

Monday, September 12, 2016

THE SECRET LIVES OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Ugly Things They  Do That Parents least Suspect

By Josepher Mbako Zakah*

Josepher Mbako Zakah
   Getting university education is the aspiration of many a Cameroonian student.

Certainly, not all university hopefuls are lucky to pass through the tertiary institution; those who gain admission there try to make the most out of it by striving  to achieve not only what is rightly expected of them but also some secret goals. After all, many say that being a university student means you have become mature, independent and responsible for your own actions.

It is for these reasons that many students are allowed to live far away from their parents or guardians with the latitude to take control of their own lives.

But it is unfortunate that some of these students exploit this opportunity to indulge into immoral and illegal activities that bring nothing but shame to their parents and to an extent to the community.

Some of the questionable activities of varsity students include but are not limited to: scamming, flirting, online prostitution/sexting, habitual night-clubbing, occultism and cohabitation. The above -mentioned are the most common among university students in Buea. 

                                 Scamming

 Scamming- simply defined as a fraudulent deal- seems to be a selfishly profitable activity for many university students. They want to grow rich over night and live in kind of luxury.

Interestingly, scamming formerly seen as a male activity now attracts female students. Student-scammers think that it is not wrong at all to trick a Whiteman and get money as some form of punishment for latter’s wanton exploitation of natural resources for centuries.

Tony Sone, a student in Buea gave testimony of his friend imprisoned because he was found guilty of scamming. Another testimony from one student Kenyi Immaculate revealed how a teenager suddenly became mad after fraudulently receiving huge sums of money from an unknown person overseas.Such are some of the ordeals many student- scammers go through. Others have reportedly been struck dead by evil spirits, believed to have been sent by scamming victims.

 But it’s rather a surprise that a growing number of youths especially university students still get involved in this confidence trick business.

Some parents think that students from poor backgrounds easily get involved in scamming-finding it hard to foot their bills in a rather expensive university milieu.

To Pastor Meshach   of Full Gospel Church Malingo-Buea, it’s  peer pressure and the love for money that push them to do such, alluding to the Bible ,which says “The love for money is the root of all evil”. The Clergyman adds that, it’s that the urgent need for money that makes the students see scamming is the only solution whereas there are other legal ways by students can raise money to help cater for their school needs.

                                       Flirting

  It’s now fashionable among university students to have more than one dating partner not withstanding the prevalence of venereal diseases. The female student chooses to have more than one boyfriend so to have greater chances of satisfying her basic/material needs. According to a female student, “If I have two boyfriends and in need, if Boyfriend A fails, Boyfriend B   will supply”

 An interesting story is told how a boyfriend discovered names of so-called rival boyfriends in her girlfriend’s phone saved as Loser 1, Loser 2 and Loser 3.And using the girl’s phone to dial his number he discovered to his utter dismay that despite his huge expenditure on girls she saved his name in the phone as Fool International, since he was only visiting Buea from the USA.

Dishonest girls attach suitors’ names to particular needs and save as such hoping only to get financial or material gains from their suitors while deliberately toiling with their emotions. Who cares in a materialistic world?

Promiscuous young men on their part choose to have several girlfriends at a time in order to have sex more frequently and to have their chores done for them-and these guys schedule the visits of the girls to avoid clashes. Two girls realizing that they are dating the same boyfriend have fought against each other.

                                   Prostitution/sexting

    Many university female students shamefully use their genitalia as a source of income by secretly embracing prostitution, which is illegal in Cameroon but common .They travel to other towns  where they are  not known to  meet  “sugar mommy or sugar-daddy” from whom they receive usually financial returns in exchange of sex. A newfound practice that is common now is online pornography/prostitution/sexting whereby nude photos and videos of ladies are sent in exchange for money.

This is a demonic exercise as testimonies of people reveal that demonic spirits go through these pictures into the lives of their victims   and cause mental and other spiritual damages.

Orock Ndip Romeo, an ex-student from the University of Buea testified that his friend got mad after having online sex on Skype with an unknown person and was taken to TB Joshua in Nigeria for deliverance.

Another testimony from Tony Sone, says nude pictures of a girl named Edith was posted on face book and investigation later revealed that  were  pictures she had sent to her online lover.

                                   Habitual Nightclubbing  

    Some university students have cultivated the habit of night clubbing at the expense of their studies. They don’t buy book but spend elusive FCFA gulping alcoholic drinks. . A day without clubbing leaves them with a feeling of emptiness This activity exposes them to many dangers: they risk being attacked by thieves o their way back home; drunkenness, sexual harassment, lie-telling, lateness to classes the next day due to hangovers etc.

                                 Armed Robbery

    Having Buea as our case study, robbery is one of the most rampant activities particularly during the rainy season. Although one cannot say for sure if the thieves are actually university students, considering that Buea has student residential localities and coupled with extravagant lifestyles some engage in, one can’t help but conclude that some of these students partake in robbery as a means of getting fast money. Some of these night robbers stop at nothing to get what they want and this includes killing their victims or leaving them seriously wounded. Thieves are been beaten, imprisoned and others even put to death before the arrival of police men on regular intervals on the streets of molyko. A thief last year broke into a room only to find the occupant whom he stabbed before escaping.

 Luckily enough the sound of the victim’s scream drew the attention of his neighbors who immediately went into the room to find their neighbor in a pool of his own blood. The armed robber in trying to escape fell from the fifth floor and broke his leg, facilitating his arrest and detention.

                            Occultism

Belonging to a cult in school has become almost fashionable in varsity milieus in Cameroon. Members of such groups enjoy the pride and power the gained belonging to such but are treated with suspicion by God-fearing students as they are seen as blood suckers

 Their activities equally involve invoking of demonic evil spirits for self-fortification.
                           Cohabitation

This happens when a boyfriend and girlfriend live together and enjoy the advantages of marriage as though are legally married. This is usually done without the knowledge of the parents and most cases it’s the girl that chooses to cohabit with her boyfriend. It’s referred to by some as “small marriage” as they indulge into activities of married couples. Some say it’s a way of practicing how to live with a husband or wife before marriage.

 This may work out well with some who end in a legal marriage but a good number of cohabitants part ways sometimes in disappointment. It has caused ‘broken hearts’ drop out from school and unwanted pregnancies while others get sexually transmissible diseases. 
                       CONCLUSION

  It is necessary that everyone should contribute in one way or another toward helping university student live and do only morally correct and legal things. Parents should seek to know the kind of people their children keep as friends, pay surprise visits to make them conscious of their goals as university students.. Pastor Meshach of Full Gospel church Malingo advises that, students must not be allowed either by parents or guardians to do anything in the name of democracy-“otherwise people will start killing others on street in the name of democracy”. He urges frequent police patrol in and around cyber cafes to check illegal activities of users. The clergyman calls on   churches to persuasively preach word and commandments of God to all and sundry using every possible means.

Students should therefore be careful in choosing friends to avoid negative influence for the scripture says bad company corrupts good manners. They should equally have a goal to achieve and be conscious of why they are in school.                                                                                        

The above mentioned issues of university student life are a problem that needs the intervention of almost everyone in the society for a solution to be arrived at. This will not only help the student but everyone who contributes to it. By helping students by laid down regulations and the laws the land, is in effect, reducing the incidence of immorality and illegality.


NB:Josepher Mbako Zakah is a University of Buea journalism student on internship.




Monday, September 5, 2016

Gabon opposition chief calls for general strike after disputed election

-Gabon's opposition leader Jean Ping called on Monday for a general strike to protest against what he said was a fraudulent re-election victory by President Ali Bongo.
   Ping, who says he is now the leader of the Central African oil producer, said in a statement on his website that his fight was not over, even as calm returned to the capital following deadly riots last week.
  "I ask you from today onward not to use violence but to resist by blocking the country's economy," he said, addressing all Gabonese.
   "I propose to cease all activity and begin a general strike," he added.
At least six people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested in violence after Wednesday's announcement of a slim vote victory for Bongo, whose family has run Gabon for half a century.
    In the capital Libreville traffic began to pick up along the main boulevards on Monday and it was not immediately clear whether Ping's call to strike was being heeded.
   Bongo has dismissed all allegations of vote fixing.
(Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
-Reuters

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Save Gabon From Election Fraud

Opinion

By Jean Ping*

New York Times -September 2: On Saturday, Aug. 27, presidential elections were held in my country, Gabon, in West Africa, and I was the candidate who won by a substantial vote margin. Nearly a week later, I would have expected to be addressing the world as Gabon’s president-elect, ready and willing to work with the United States and all our international partners to fight terrorism, build our economies and improve the lives of our citizens through increased development and cooperation.

Instead, I am hoping that the American people, and all others who care about democracy, will help my country through a crisis for our democracy. I’m in Gabon where the current president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is using our national security forces — armed with valuable military weaponry provided by the United States to fight terrorism — against our own people. In the reports I’ve heard, at least a dozen are dead — probably more — and hundreds wounded; thousands have been arrested, including 23 of my campaign workers.

In order to keep these people from telling their own stories, Mr. Bongo has been shutting off the internet for hours at a time. But thanks to social media and brave Gabonese citizens, the story will be told. Online it is easy to find images of the horror and violence that Mr. Bongo’s repression of protest has set loose over the past week. As I write, on this Thursday morning, helicopters from Mr. Bongo’s presidential guard are loudly circling above my campaign headquarters, and the streets are full of protesters clashing with Mr. Bongo’s security forces.
 
Why is Mr. Bongo doing all this? Well, when the people of Gabon voted for their leader, they chose me. They chose a change from the dynastic regime that has ruled our country since 1967. Mr. Bongo’s father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, ruled from 1967 to 2009, when the son took over. Now Mr. Bongo is throwing a deadly and dangerous tantrum because the people of Gabon told him that it’s time for him to go.
Specifically, after Saturday’s vote — which was peaceful, orderly and open to international observers — election officials, provincial governors and international witnesses could see that I had a double-digit lead across the country, and Ali Bongo got nervous.

These results were not surprising because the two other major challengers withdrew from the race before the election and backed me as the unified opposition candidate against Mr. Bongo. The votes — 373,310 in all — were collected, and preliminary counts from eight of nine provinces showed me with a solid lead as late as Tuesday.

But on Wednesday, when Mr. Bongo’s interior minister announced the “official results,” including the ninth province — Mr. Bongo’s own base — he shocked us all by announcing that the voter turnout in that province had been 99.9 percent (in contrast to a national turnout elsewhere of 59 percent) and that 95 percent of the province had voted for the incumbent. Curiously, the total number of voters there included several thousand more than actually live in the province.
On that basis, Mr. Bongo claimed victory by 1.57 percent of the national vote and declared himself president until 2025.

We have seen “results” like these before, but only from sham elections, most often in dictatorships. The citizens of Gabon had peacefully and respectfully exercised their right to freely and fairly choose our country’s next president. Mr. Bongo did not approve of their choice, so he substituted his will for theirs. While we are disappointed, we were not surprised. Mr. Bongo did the same thing in 2009; he was up to his same tricks again.

We, the people of Gabon, demand that Mr. Bongo end the violence and stop ordering our brothers, sisters and children in the security forces to attack our own. We demand that he stop seeking retribution against his political adversaries and their supporters. We demand that he release the election results by bureau and polling place so that independent observers can verify a recount of all the votes and confirm the will of our people.

As I said in a public appeal to the world last Wednesday, we also want the United States to accept nothing less than true democracy in Gabon, as officials in Canada, France and throughout the European Union have already committed to do. And we hope America’s citizens, its leaders and its policy makers will send a clear message to Mr. Bongo that he cannot steal an election.
I have already called on my fellow Gabonese citizens to protest peacefully until our demands have been met. I will continue this fight until our voice and our will are respected and accepted.

*Jean Ping, an economist and former foreign minister of Gabon, is also a former chairman of the African Union and was president of the 59th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in 2004 and 2005.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cameoon:Buea Royal Family Dismisses Petition Against Hon.Lifaka As Political Plot.

*Says the Vice Speaker is a respectable
leader & peace promoter

By Christopher Ambe

The Wonya Likenye Royal Family, which designates the Paramount Chief of Buea, has disowned a baseless and seemingly libelous petition against Hon.Emilia Lifaka,Vice President of Cameroon’s National Assembly,  recently sent to the President of same National Assembly and copied other authorities.
Hon. Emilia Lifaka 
    The said petition purportedly written by some members of the Wonya Likenye Royal Family accuses Hon.Lifaka of meddling in the succession affairs of  Buea Paramount Chieftaincy , following the death of Chief SML Endeley.
     But in a rebuttal, four respectable elders of the Royal Family have dismissed the petition against Hon.Lifaka,whom they describe as a highly respected leader and peace promoter, as the handiwork of her political enemies.
   Chief SML Endeley died in July 2015 at the age of 92 after serving as the Paramount ruler of the first- class chiefdom of Buea for 25 years.
    But the selection of Robert Essuka Endeley as heir by the Royal Family sparked some controversy, especially after a June 26, 2016 enlarged Buea Royal Traditional Council meeting, chaired by Dr.Humphrey Ekema Monono.
   Below is a facsimile of the rebuttal addressed to the President of Cameroon’s National Assembly by the Buea Royal Family, which The Recorder procured :



 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Popular Action Party Reacts to President Biya's laptop gift to University Freshmen :

Akoson Raymond, Secretary-General of PAP,making an awareness call to Cameroonians

*Says the gesture is a bait !

* That the monetary equivalent of Biya's 500,000 mini laptop computers could provide at least 6,000 jobs with a salary of 100,000 Frs per month for the next ten years!

The Minister of Higher Education, Jacques Fame Ndongo signed communiqué No. 16.000/MINESUP/CAB/nn on July 26, 2016 explaining Biya’s regime’s “Plan Special Jeunes”. China’s Sichuan Telecom Construction Engineering Co. Ltd has been contracted to supply 500,000 pieces of mini computers to university students. This will gulp down 75 Billion Francs of borrowed money from China’s EXIM Bank.

The Popular Action Party(PAP) ,amongst other issues, pick the following:

• PAP notes that the government failed to inform the Cameroonian people of the interest rates of this loan that the country shall incur within this ten year period. We ask that such figures be made known immediately;

• Such venture is very bad investment and a complete waste of resources.

Much as computers are vital for research and other academic course work, PAP believe that, this does not beat urgent priority projects on Cameroon’s development totem pole such as fighting the scourge of unemployment, provision of potable drinking water to every household, mechanise agricultural practices, putting meaning to the words, ‘free primary education’ etc. Let us randomly consider the issue of combating unemployment.
75 Billions can do a lot! Go also, to our state budget line by line and cut back on fuel, so-called out-station allowances and other reckless spending such as entertainment. Put all of these together and create factories across the country that would finish our raw materials … create a name for the country as a manufacturing hub in the region.

And by the way, in case this embarrassment of a regime didn’t know, 75 Billions could provide six thousand jobs to youths with a monthly salary of 100,000 Frs for the next ten years.
• The bidding process to pick Sichuan Telecom Construction Engineering Co. Ltd is mired in mystery and constitutes a very bad deal for Cameroon.

At the press conference of Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo, he brandished a sample of the said computers. This shows that what the government intends to supply are only mini laptop computers. The Intelligence Unit of PAP National Strategic Team contacted seven major laptop manufacturers in China’s leading manufacturing city of Shenzhen namely Shenzhen Yu Chuang Xing Ye Technology Co., Ltd; Shenzhen Yongjing Digital Limited Company; Shenzhen Sanwo Digital Technology Co., Ltd; Shenzhen Yyhong Technology Co., Limited; Shenzhen Sayirin Technology Co., Limited; Shenzhen Hisent Science & Technology Co., Ltd and Shenzhen BOCOOR Technology Com Ltd and requested for Pro forma Invoices (PI) for the highest grade quality of 500,000 mini laptop computers with each having a warranty of 2 years. Lo and behold, the prices ranged from 52 dollars (29,350 Frs) to 79 dollars (46,373 Frs) per piece [Current exchange rate is [1 USD = 587 XAF].

A mean of the best prices these factories accept to provide is 65.5 dollars (38,448.5 Frs). Now, if government is buying 500,000 mini laptop computers for a whopping 150,000 Frs per piece, it is either a very bad deal or some ministers have added mouth-watery commissions – four times greater than the actual cost – a scenario capable of ‘under-developing’ the Cameroonian people.

• It is a bait president Biya is using to impress upon the youths as elections draw to a close.

Biya’s so-called “Special Plan for the Youths” is a mockery to the young people of Cameroon. PAP believes that it is the youths who ought to be the actual commanders of their destiny and not some octogenarian who is tired, unproductive and lazy!
The youths must remember that as per the research carried out by the School of Gerontology, Southern California University in 2011, cognitive ability depreciates with age. That explains why, in 1981, the IMF reported Cameroon’s economic growth rate stood at some 12.25%. The minds presiding over the country at the time were young, vibrant and energetic.

Joseph Owona became director of the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC) in 1976, "when he was all of thirty-one years old" (Martin Mayer, The Diplomats, p. 162); Bello Bouba Maigari became Paul Biya’s Prime Minister in 1982 at 35; Dorothy Njeuma, who until a few years ago was still the Rector of the University of Yaounde (I) became Vice Minister of Education in 1975 when she was 32 years old; Nzo Ekangaki was 28 years old when he became Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1962, and 38 when he was elected Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity (OAU); Paul Bamela Engo, currently a judge at the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, was 33 years old when he became a Minister Counselor at the Cameroon Embassy in Bonn, Germany in 1964 and 38 when he was elevated to the rank of a Minister Plenipotentiary in 1969, Kamdem Niyim became Minister of Health in 1964 at the age of 23, etc., etc.

Fast forward to 2004 when our economic growth rate plummeted to 4.2%. Those governing? Tired, lazy, unproductive gerontocracy!
These old men cannot pretend to be designing a future for us they won’t live to see.

And as the PAP Chieftain, Ayah Paul Abine always puts it to the youths, "the red sea may not part in our days. We need a bridge to cross to the other side ... that bridge is PAP"

PAP strongly advise the youths to guard against such game of hoodwink by the Biya regime at the wake of elections.

AKOSON A. Raymond
PAP Secretary General



Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cameroon:Southwest-based advocates, law students deepen understanding of Human Rights issues

*By Zakah Mbako Josepher   
Lawyers and advocates-in-training (pupil lawyers) based in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, as well as law students of the University of Buea have deepened their understanding of Human Rights issues at a one day seminar, which took place, Friday July 29,at Chariot Hotel Buea.
   The Recorder understands that by mastering Human Rights and its related problems, lawyers are better positioned to educate their clients and defend them in the courts of law, especially in the current context in Cameroon where the situation of human rights promotion is begging for great improvement.
   The seminar, which held under the theme “Lawyers and Human Rights”, was organized by the Cameroon Bar Association (CBA) in partnership with European Union (EU).
   The training brought over 300 participants and was opened by Barrister Mboke Divine, sitting in for the President (Batonnier) of the CBA.
   Resource persons included Dr. Patience Sone of the University of Buea and Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, who is also President of Fako Lawyers’ Association (FAKLA).
 Barrister Agbor Balla, who presented a paper on “The Application of Human Rights Law in Lawyering”, noted:
 “Lawyers have long functioned as architects as well as artisans of social reform, redesigning, reshaping, and creating not only legal institutions, but social, economic and political institutions as well.
He cited the early 1960s when “lawyers of all backgrounds, young and old, joined the civil rights movement en masse and made it possible for Dr.Martin Luther King Jr,to fashion the most successful civil rights movement in history, one based upon a willingness to go to jail for passive resistance to immoral laws”
  Barrister Agbor Balla further noted, “The lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of clients’ rights and exertion of his utmost learning and ability, to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from him, save the rule of law legally applied”
   Harping on the respect for Human rights, the Executive Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa 
Said:
 “Without the reciprocal expectation that states will respect their treaty obligations, the community of nations would become nothing more than a Hobbesian jungle governed by a Darwinian paradigm where only the strongest and fittest states survive”
  Homosexuality was one of the controversial topics of discussion at the seminar.
  Although sexual orientation is considered Human Rights, in Cameroon homosexuality/lesbianism is a criminal act.
   According to Cameroon Penal Code (Section 347), “Whoever has sexual relations with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment for from six months to five years and a fine of from 20,000frs to 200,000frs.”
   A Participant, pupil lawyer Fred Luma, sought to know," Since Human Right is said to be divine in nature, will I be right to say that homosexuality is not a human right since it has no divinity in it?”
   But his doubt was cleared by resource person  Dr.Patience Sone who said homosexuality is a case that is judged based on the principle of equality ,citing Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ,which states, “ All human beings  are born free and equal in dignity and rights".
She further argued that inasmuch as God himself had to destroy the City of Sodom and Gomorrah because of this sin, the revolution of human rights over the years has come to the conclusion that, everyone should be treated equally and without discrimination and this includes the minority who advocate and or engage in homosexuality. With regards to the divine nature of human rights, she argued that, this doesn't mean that all human rights are given by God; that some are man-made and unanimously accepted by the UN to be implemented.
  Buttressing Dr. Sone, Barrister Agbor Balla said like other minority cases, homosexuality should be judged based on the existing law and not on personal doctrines.
  For his part, former Batonnier Etta Bessong said as long as the advocate defends both the saint and the devil, “What is punishable by the law of a country, should be prosecuted in the light of that prohibition.”
  Talking to the Recorder, Pupil lawyer Bessem Ashu Agbor of Mamangie Chambers in Limbe, appreciated the seminar, noting it has broadened the intellectual knowledge of lawyers on Human Rights and its implementation
He opined that the Human Right situation of the country is “deplorable”, citing the frequent arrest and detention of Southern Cameroon national Council (SCNC) activists for advocating the restoration of the independence of Southern Cameroons. “This is a violation of the right of self determination”, she said, adding that “the prohibition of homosexuality in the country is an abuse against minority rights
  Barrister Agbor Balla, in his closing remarks, urged lawyers to educate themselves well and do their best in the defense of Human Rights of people.

* Zakah Mbako Josepher is a University of Buea Journalism Student on Internship

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