Monday, August 17, 2015

Cameroon’s Human Rights Situation Needs Improvement, Says Expert

                                   By Kain Blessing Tung*
Obasi Clarkson, chief executive officer(CEO) of HELP OUT, a Buea-based NGO  that promotes respect  for  Human Rights says the human rights situation in Cameroon  is fairly good compared to other countries in the sub region.

        In an interview with The Recorder last August 6 Friday in Buea, Mr. Obasi who has been monitoring the human rights situation of Cameroon for many years, advised that Cameroon , which is strategically located in the central African sub-region ,should strive  to  serve as a model  of human rights  promotion to its neighbors.

“The human rights situation of Cameroon is not what it used to be. I would not say it is good or that it is bad. But much still needs to be done by the state to improve the situation.

      “The government should open its doors for international investments-investments that will touch people’s lives by way of job creation,” he told The Recorder. “I think that, with the abundant natural resources Cameroon has, there is just no reason why the country cannot have a good spread of industries here and there”

      Mr. Obasi, who is a Cameroonian, regretted the fact that inhabitants of localities where resources are found are not treated with fairness in terms of job opportunities. “Cocoa, for example, which is produced in Kumba should have its factory there rather than Douala. If the factory were in kumba, it would offer job opportunities to many people there. But this is not the case.”

Mr. Obasi Clarkson (extreme right) ,CEO ,HELP OUT, briefing  the Canadian High Commissioner to Cameroon  and wife on  the NGO's activities on Dec 10,2014  in Buea on the occasion of Human Rights Day \photo credit: Chris Ambe, The Recorder,Cmr.
 He cited corruption as a hindrance to Human Rights promotion in Cameroon. “The most pressing problem is for the government to open up to the citizenry and curb corruption  ...”

 The CEO admitted that promoting human rights is not an easy task. “When you talk of Human Rights, there are people-those who like to oppress others, who don’t want to hear it” .He cautioned Human Rights campaigners: “As you are advocating for the rights of others, you must also take care of yourselves else  your own rights may be violated”
Mr. Obasi recalled that when he stated his human rights NGO in 1997, state security forces summoned him and sought to know whether the organization was created to fight the government.

      The rights advocate noted that, despite the numerous odds they face in the promotion of Human Rights , Help Out, has recorded a lot of successes “ We have touched the lives of thousands of people both rural and urban areas.”

Help Out, has  not only carried out  human rights education for   Cameroon prisons especially in the Southwest Region, it has also ensured good sanitation, encouraged  cordial relationship between penitentiary staff and inmates for the well being of prisoners

     Mr. Obasi, who insisted that he would continue the campaign for human rights observation, noted: “When I see the person near you smiling because his rights are protected; it gladdens my heart…”

He implored everybody to endeavor to know their rights and fight for their protection, adding that human rights promotion is a collective responsibility.
  • *Kain Blessing Tung is a University of Buea Journalism student

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