Global Conscience Initiative (GCI) is a Non Governmental Organization and a Non profit making Organization situated opposite Kumba High Court. It has as objective to promote and protect Human Rights in and around Kumba and its vicinities. To attain this objective, GCI and its entire staff have selected a good number of Communities in and out of the town of Kumba to work with this year 2012 under the banner: “CAM’s Projects”. After haven being with the Organization within this period of observation to crown all it has done within the estimated period, one may have the following to make as commences on the activities of the two Communities it has been working with through out this period. These Communities are: the Mbalangi Traditional Council and its population and that of Mofako-Bekondo and her indigenous population. Haven had the opportunity to visit these areas at least twice each and participated in their Council sessions under the canopy of your Organization as an intern, I have this to comment on and possibly proposals for follow-up activities.
To begin with the progress made by both Traditional Councils as of now one could but give them a passed mark and much encouragement particularly with the in flock of cases before their Councils. They have both prevent to have understood what was deliver to them concerning the treatment of issues table before them par tending to Human Rights. They follow almost all the various steeps to be applicable during a mediation process between parties. There are some clear indications of transparency and equal participation in the mediation process by both the complainant and the respondent. Equal opportunity is given to each individual to air out his/her views as concerning the matter between them where appropriate solutions are often given by the Councilors of both Councils.
As concern the composition of both councils, one as of now can comment to an extern only on that of Mbalangi Traditional Council. We discover that out of about eighteen councilors that makes up the Council, one could fine the presence of persons of different tribal groups such as a Bangwa Indigent and the presence of a Francophone and maybe some other persons from other tribal groups that did not come to our notice. With regard to the composition of the Traditional Council of Mofako-Bekondo, all we notice is an increase in the presence of women as Councilors from one to least three. As to whether it comprises people of different tribes, we claim our ignorant but put as a challenge to the staffs of GCI or any other intern after us to open an investigation for that since it will also be of great help to us when writing. We must also testify that we have not been opportune to witness a case put before this Council which is treated in its entirety and the verdict pass. Most of their maters within the two trips we made there were often adjourned for one reason or the other (Mofako-Bekondo). That not withstanding, it always commence on a good footing with the putting in place of the appropriate rules guiding mediation.
Keeping apart the positive commence identify in the progress of the both Traditional Councils, we however identify certain lapses which call for more emphases to be laid on for adjustment or rectification. The first of which is the nature of the environment in which courts seating often takes place. Most of the time is too noisy not exactly by passerby but by people who come to follow up the mediation process. We challenge the Councilors to keep their messengers alert and why not some little sanctions given to those found disturbing. This goes particularly to the Mbalangi Traditional Council where a true environment for mediation is still lacking. We are all aware that courts environments are expected to be as calm as graves yard talk less of a mediation process.
Furthermore the treatment given to the parties (complainant and respondent) before the council is not humanlike. Keeping a person up for the whole mediation process does not show any signs for the respect of human rights. We are commenting here with regard to what we saw at the Mbalangi Traditional council on the very first Council seating we attended. The provision of a seat at times only to one person goes again some of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Section 7 of this document talk of the equality of all before the law without any discrimination. Providing a seat only for one party is already an indication of impartiality at the beginning of the process and maybe this will go right up to the final to be pronounced be the mediators. As such we recommend that seats should be provided for both parties seeking for good solutions before our local councils.
Another point of attraction is the exorbitant amounts often ask to pay by the defaulting party at the end of the mediation proceedings brought before these Traditional Councils. It should be moderate so that any person paying will do it with even a smile in his or her face and to be able to maintain a friendly relation with the person who leaves the Council shudders high.
Also the idea of forcing people to join this or that Association is against the free liberty given each person even by nature to do what pleases him or her and maybe face the consequences later. Consider the wordings of section 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which almost every State as of today is applying. Freedom to associate is one of the fundamental rights of every human being to choose who or which Association to associate with.
To crown it all, youth’s participation or presence amongst the over eighteen Councilors that makes up the Mofako-Bekondo traditional Council is not encouraging. Aren’t they the people to take over from their elders when they must have been of age? if that be the case, then they should be involve in the whole process from its early stage of conception else it might be too late.
The teaching of the different generations of human rights as categorized by the two Conventions that immediately followed the UNDHR is of great importance. That is the UN Convention on Civil and Political rights, Economic, Social and Cultural rights not forgetting the Solidarity rights which was later on added. Does the appellation today of the First, second and third generations of Human Rights rights. This later generation talks of the rights to a clean environment, development etc. With this known to all the members of the different community, any topic to elaborate on be it on corruption, good governance, gender equality, prisoner’s rights or on transparency and accountability, we will be able to link it to which category of rights is exactly in question.
More emphasis should also be laid on the issue of bail which as of today is free in Cameroon. What might be disturbing is getting some one who could accept to stand as a surety even though money at times maybe demanded or collateral security which is supposed to be refunded to the surety immediately he or she presents the person in question before the examining magistrate, state counsel or any other judicial authority when required. This could be verified under Section 224(1) reading along side with Sec. 232 of the criminal procedure Code. However, it shall not be granted to any person charge with a felony punishable with life imprisonment or death penalty Sec.224 (2) of the very code.
A talk should also be elaborated on abortion which is permitted given the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy or the health situation of the lady in question. You could see this under Sec.339 of the Cameroonian Penal Code or where the woman in question is rape and does not want such an illegitimate child. It should however be noted that the Roman Catholic Church is totally against such a provision and is like requesting for its revision saying that it is the Almighty alone who has the powers to do away with once life and no other person no matter the condition.
Without thinking of haven exhausted everything, I rest my commences at this level while extending much gratitude to the entire staff of Global Conscience Initiative for given me the chance to carry on my internship program under their Organization and for all they are doing in the promotion and protection of Human Rights in and around Kumba. I will be back God willing.
ASABA Cornelius N.
Master student in Law