Human Rights Hour

Every Monday from 6:30 to 7:00 pm, GCI broadcasts Human Rights Hour in partnership with Lake Site Radio 91.8 FM. Human Rights Hour addresses a broad range of topics, including the rule of law, women radio showand children’s rights, workers’ rights, the media, law enforcement, prisoners’ rights, good governance, and democracy. GCI staff members, interns, and GCI-associated professionals regularly speak on the radio program, with special guests ranging from human rights activists to legal professionals, to experts on the aforementioned issues.

Since radio is the main form through which most urban and rural Cameroonians interact with the media, Human Rights Hour is an important component of GCI’s work. Broadcasting shows about human rights issues helps us effectively reach constituents that would otherwise fall outside the limits of our influence.

Below is a list of recent Human Rights Hour topics.

November 2013

Show #46: Elimination of Violence against Women – 25 November 2013

Women are often subjected to violence at home and within their communities; they suffer discrimination because of their gender; they are susceptible to beatings, rape, gender mutilation, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and domestic violence. With November 25 dedicated as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, GCI took the opportunity this day to address this topic. Violence against women may take on any form: Sexual, Physical, Emotional and Psychological Violence along with Harmful Traditional Practices (like female gential mutilation, early or forced marriages, honour killing) and Socio-Economic Violence (access to education etc.), and our female participant found it important to remind the women out there, that none of this is okay – it is a human right to be free from any form of torture or violence and to have a right to life, liberty and security of one’s person. Violence against women occurs all over the world. And even if there is already a positive progress of empowering women in Cameroon, it is also important to identify and actively say no to the violence against women. Only by identifying it and standing up to it, can we bring along change.

Show #45: mob justice – 18 November 2013

During this radio show members of the GCI team discussed mob justice. Firstly, defining what mob justice is – when the population (an irate mob) take it upon themselves the responsibility of inflicting penalty on an alleged offender/criminal without proving him guilty of the offence.

A recent incident of mob justice in Buea where a man was thought to have turned into a snake was brought up for examination. Members of the public allegedly caused damage to the hotel where the man was thought to have made this transformation in an act of mob justice. The Director of GCI asked the interns from Western countries whether they believed such a transformation was possible, and what they thought of the subsequent reaction from the public.

The team went on to discuss the international conventions that mob justice violates, such as the Convention Against Torture of 1987, and how mob justice also violates Cameroonian domestic law and the Cameroonian constitution. GCI interns considered why mob justice has become a problem in Cameroon, and suggested that mob justice could be perceived as an expression of Cameroonian’s loss of confidence with the police and judiciary. Solutions to this problem were proposed, such as an overhaul of the judiciary, a campaign to eliminate corruption, and education of the general public in regards to the problem of mob justice.

The team concluded that for Cameroon as a relatively stable country in a region that is often characterised by violent conflicts it is a pity that this problem exists, and recommended that the general public and the administration should seek to eradicate mob justice to restore public safety and the rule of law and order.

Show #44: Detainees’ rights – 11 November 2013

Last week, GCI’s staff visited several police stations for collecting hands-on data on the conditions of detainees. Therefore, in this radio show, we took the opportunity to remind to all our listeners that prisoners, irrespective of the reason they have been put in jail and the crime they have been convicted for, remain humans. And any human being is entitled to human rights, in primis, the right to be treated with humanity and dignity.

Detainees are a particular category of prisoners, considering they are in a pre-trial imprisonment awaiting for their process. Cameroonian law provides for its duration a period of 6 months to the utmost, but, some people remains in these miserable cells without light and vital space for years and years before they are brought before a judge. Sometimes they are acquitted and they have to attempt to reintegrate in the society after years of isolation in such conditions. How can you remain human after all these years of mistreatments?

Show #43: The International Criminal Court – 4 November 2013

During the last moths, GCI has been tackled most of the human rights relevant in the Cameroonian background. Now it is the moment to discuss how these rights are protected and implemented. One of the most innovative tool recently adopted by the international community is the International Criminal Court (ICC). The jurisdiction of this court is limited to the most heinous crimes: war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. So far, only African leaders have been brought before the ICC, therefore, it has been often accused of being only another tool of the western imperialism aiming to trample on the African culture. But are all these accuses grounded? GCI stand by the belief that, even if, the ICC has still many challenges to face, it still represents a big step ahead in the protection of human rights at international level.

September 2013

Show #42: Migrants’ rights – 16 September 2013

Will you bring me to your country?”. Since I am here I have been asked this question so many times. Cameroonians have the strong desire to migrate to some other countries, so, it is appropriate to clear the confusion about who is a migrant and which are his or her rights. A  migrant is any person who lives temporarily or permanently in a country where he or she was not born, and has acquired some significant social ties to this country. The category therefore ranges from the temporary worker to the highly skilled businessman. There is a specific convention targeting migrants: the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The aim of the convention is twofold. Firstly, to guarantee the same treatment to nationals as well as migrants, prohibiting discriminations and ensuring, for instance, equal access to education and the right to participate to trade unions. Secondly, to help migrants to maintain ties with their country of origin, protecting, for instance, rights to freedom of thought, expression and religion.

October 2013

Show #41: Child labor – 7 October 2013

If you walk around for the streets of Kumba, you will see a lot of little children carrying on their head a tray of peanuts or a basket of eggs. This gave GCI the spark to dedicate this radio show to child labor aiming to raise awareness about this common phenomenon and the negative consequences that it causes. Low level of poverty and unemployment and a limited access to compulsory and free education are only few of the causes that lead to child labor. But even when the family is coping with economic difficulties can’t decide to sacrifice the fundamental rights of the children. Education, for instance, is essential for any child to express their potentiality and necessary for any country to build young leaders that will guide the country towards development.

August 2013

Show #40: Right of the refugees – 14 October 2013

Few days ago, a boat coming from Africa sank near the Italian coast. GCI wanted to recall the attention on this phenomenon and pay a tribute to these people and their families. Therefore, the tonight radio show is dedicated to refugees’ rights. Firstly, it is necessary to clarify the distinction between a refugee and a migrant: the former is forced to flee because of a threat of persecution and because they lack the protection of their own country. The latter, instead, may leave his or her country for many reasons that are not related to persecution,  such as for the purposes of employment, family reunification or study. Due to the threat that a refugee is subjected, international law provides a strong protection which is hinged on the principle of non-refoulement: a refugee should not be returned to a country where he or she faces serious threats to his or her life or freedom. Once the refugee status has been ascertained, the individual is entitled to a series of rights for guaranteeing his safety (for instance, the right not to be expelled) and integration the new country (the right to education or the right to public relief and assistance).

Show #38 e #39: Freedom of religion and its limits – 26 & 30 August 2013

The right to choose your own beliefs? Or, even more, to change your personal faith? There is no way  for this to happen in Cameroon. Religion plays a central role in every-day life and it is strongly linked to traditions. Children raised in a catholic family stay catholic. There is no room for discussion or changes. That is why, GCI’s staff took the occasion for talking about the importance of religious freedom. Any of us should choose freely his or her own belief, meaning embracing the religion that suits our conceptions at best as well as not choosing any faith. It is a fundamental rights, due to the importance in shaping our personality.

The freedom of religion is a fundamental rights, but, caution has to be paid! Especially in countries like Cameroon where it plays such a central role, it is important to drown borders to it or the risk to trample on other rights is really high. The freedom of religion can clash against different rights, like the freedom of expression or the right to bodily integrity (female genital mutilations dictated by tradition and religion are very common in Cameroon). Another case where limits have to be set for avoiding HR violations regards the coexistence of two or more different believes in the same State. A state should guarantee an equal treatment to all religions.

July 2013

Show #37: Right to health – 29 July 2013

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. With the completely inadequate hospitals and the very expensive medicines, there are seriously manifest gaps in the protection and implementation of this rights. Even if is a right that will be realized progressively, given the large amount of resources to be invested, the Cameroonian State has the obligation to take positive measures for improving the health conditions. There is still a long way to go for this right to be respected.

Show #36: Rights of the minorities – 22 July 2013

When we discuss about discrimination we always refer to gender issues, but, is the only possible discrimination? it’s time to remember there are several grounds of discrimination, especially in a country like Cameroon that is composed by several tribes. The radio show focuses on what kind of protection is needed by these minorities: for non-discriminating them in not enough guarantee the same protection provided for the majority of the citizens, but for the full protection of their cultural, racial or religious diversity a further step has to be made by the State. Yet, Cameroon hasn’t taken proper measures for protecting its minority groups, like the pigmy.

June 2013

Show #35 : Right to marry – 03 June 2013

Weddings in Cameroon are seriously a big deal. Families spend years and years to plan this event. The most complex ceremonies requires three steps before the couple can be considered spouses for good: a traditional wedding, followed by the civil one and finally the religious one. But, can human rights find their place during this long way? And once the couple is married, are equal rights ensured to the newly wife? In Cameroon the family still has a central role in the choice of the spouse and religion is still a hinder to love. And the divorce is still considered a shameful act for a woman, who, therefore, is more willing to remain subject to her husband’s will, irrespective of the circumstances, than coping with the disapprobation of their families and society.

May 2013

Show #34: Right to play – 27 May 2013

Schools are moving to an end. It’s time for rediscovering a forgotten right: GCI in collaboration with a Peace Corps Volunteer Ryan chose the topic the right to play!

It’s a right protected under the Convention on the Right of Child, but it has had a hard time being implemented, because adults and institutions tend to forget the fundamental role of this right aims to promote the development of creativity, imagination, self-confidence, self-efficacy, as well as physical, social, cognitive and emotional skills.

That’s the reason why the UN adopted a General Comment this February, remembering how this is not a frivolous right, but it is worth being enforced and active measures must be taken to enforce it.

Show # 33: Right to Education – 13 May 2013

GCI has just started a collaboration with the youth group of a church in Fiango (a neighborhood of Kumba). This led us to the topic of tonight’s show: the right to education.

According to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, every child has a right to a compulsory primary education free of charges and the right to financial assistance in case of need for the higher education.

This right has a deep impact on the child’s growth, considering it develops his personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential, helping to create responsible citizens.

Show #32: Freedom of press – 6 May 2013

The freedom of press has always risen several issues. What is the role of the State? Does this freedom have to be circumscribed within definite borders? Taking the opportunity of the 3rd of May, World Press Freedom Day, GCI’s staff tried tackling such issues.

Even though the Cameroonian law provides a protection for the free press, the way for achieving a well-informed society is still far. Several mistreatments against journalists have been denounced by Amnesty International and the non-governmental medias have to be approved by a State commission.

The press is still a tool that lays in the State’s hand, but, hopefully the impact of the internet will help to move society forward.

show #32: Right to work 29 May 2013

1st May being Labor day, GCI’s staff took the opportunity to talk about the right to work. It is a holiday which takes place in more than 80 countries and it celebrates the achievements made by workers and trade unions over the years. The right to work principle protects a free access to the labor  market. Nonetheless, access to the labor market is useless if the working conditions are not acceptable. A minimum standard of conditions has to be ensured by the State, guaranteeing a worthy life to any employee and his family. The Cameroonian Labor code aims to do this, determining, for instance, a minimum wage (28,246 CFA per month) and guaranteeing maternal leave (14 weeks, which may start 4 weeks before the date of confinement).

April 2013

Show #30 & 31 (01 – 08/04/13): Electionwatch

With Cameroonian senatorial elections around the corner, GCI’s staff took the opportunity to talk about the right to vote, and to raise awareness about the implications of the election.

The right to vote is a fundamental right of any citizen and is one the most important tools of democracy. It allows citizens to take part in the public life of their own country and determine its future direction. The first show asked about the requirements to vote in Cameroon and discussed how the right to vote is protected at home and abroad.

The second show focused on corruption in elections. The team talked about various techniques that are used to manipulate election results, and asked how we can fight against this. Practical advice was given in regard to senatorial elections and what they mean for the political environment in Cameroon.

March 2013

Show #29 (18/03/13): Freedom of Expression

The team took some time to discuss freedom of expression and its application in Cameroon. Joined once again by Barrister Elonge, the team discussed freedom of expression in theory, in Cameroonian and international law, and in practice, in the media and on the street. The international interns provided interesting insights on freedom of expression in the West.

Show #27&28 (04 – 11/03/13): Women: Roles and Rights

March 8th being International Women’s Day, GCI seized the opportunity to talk about women. Two shows were dedicated to the cause with the first being devoted to the day’s theme for that year: the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women. Psychological, social and physical violence were all discussed with a special emphasis on two practices that still occur in Cameroon: female genital mutilation and breast ironing. The second show focused on the role of women in the Cameroonian society. After a brief introduction on what Cameroonian law says about women, a debate took place about whether the role of women in Cameroon needed to change. Several arguments were put forward, ranging from culture to development and political participation, and both sides were given fair consideration.

February 2013

Show #26 (25/02/13): Freedom of movement

Freedom of movement is guaranteed within the borders of the state of Cameroon. In order to enjoy this right, one must have – in addition to a reasonable amount of money to cover transportation costs – a national identity card, and must frequently deal with checkpoints. However simple the law is, free movement in Cameroon is restricted and often dependent on bribery.

Show #24&25 (11 – 18/02/13): Child Labour

February 11 was Youth Day, a national holiday in Cameroon. On this occasion GCI chose to commit two shows on Child labour, a problem throughout the country. Aided by our two studio lawyers, we explained the intricacies of national and international legislation on the matter and compared it with the facts. In addition to young street vendors or agricultural workers, more severe forms of child labour, such as child trafficking or sexual exploitation, still exist. Widespread poverty is often considered as a major contributing factor behind child labour as poor families rely on their children to improve their chances of attaining basic necessities.

Show #23 (04/02/13): Torture

One of the most pressing issues in Cameroon is torture. A recent amnesty international report highlighted the wide prevalence of torture in prisons across the country. Despite the fact that both International and Cameroonian laws protect us against torture, it happens all over the world and Cameroon is no exception. In show 23 the GCI team raised awareness concerning the different forms of torture that exist, and that occur in Cameroon.

January 2013

Show #22 (28/01/13): Arbitrary arrests

During this show Cameroonian and International laws that protect the population against arbitrary arrest were explained by our studio Lawyers, Barristers Elonge and Ernest. Practical advice was given about how individuals may protect themselves from such practices

Show #21 (21/01/13): Witchcraft

The team discussed witchcraft in Cameroon and how the perception of witchcraft can lead to Human Rights abuses. Cameroonian and International members of staff expressed their opinions and experiences on the subject.

Show #20 (14/01/13): Workers Rights

The issue of labour rights was discussed and practical advice was provided about the correct procedures to follow in the event of worker disputes or contract violations.

Show #19 (07/01/13): Presentation of CAM’s project.

The updated CAM’s project was introduced and its upcoming activities for the new year were advertised.

December 2012

Show #18 (10/12/12): Human Rights Day

General awareness raising and celebration of International Human Rights Day. This was conducted as part of the wider GCI programme of activities for that day. For more information about our programme for that week click here.

November 2012

Show #16 & 17 (16 – 26/11/12): Violence against women

November 25th was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against women. As such GCI devoted two shows to the topic in which violence against women in Cameroon was addressed and debate took place over whether this can ever be justified under the mantel of Traditional Cameroonian Customs.

August 2012

Show #15 (6/8/12)- Rachel Braden, Ariel Bilyeu, and Ntebo Ebenezer returned once more to the topic of corruption for this week’s broadcast. This time, the question presented was: Can peace and corruption co-exist? Interns Rachel and Ariel disagreed on this. Rachel proposed that literal peace, that is, the absence of war, can certainly exist side-by-side with corruption. Her main example was Cameroon: Americans are consistently told that the country is a safe one to visit; that it is peaceful and that violence is relatively rare. Yet the country is overrun with corruption. Ariel disagreed. She believed that peace did not exist as long as people were consistently suffering from the effects of corruption. Every time a person had to pay a bribe, had to suffer because of a corrupt politician – that was the absence of peace. Both Rachel and Ariel agreed, however, that if corruption continued within Cameroon at the level on which it currently exists, the people of Cameroon will eventually rebel in one form or another. And that this rebellion would likely not be peaceful.
Near the end of the program, Ebeny mentioned that it was Rachel’s last week at GCI. He asked her to say a few words about her time in Cameroon, and to thank anyone she wanted to mention on the radio. Rachel stated that she had a wonderful and very formative experience in Cameroon. She thanked her friends she had made in the past two months, and above all, the staff at GCI. Rachel will be sad to say goodbye to GCI and to Cameroon, but she will remember her time here for the rest of her life.

July 2012

Show #14 (30/7/12)- GCI acting director Ntebo Ebenezer and interns Ariel Bilyeu and Rachel Braden continued this week discussing the topic of corruption. All staff members agreed that transparency and accountability are the best ways to fight corruption, and each person offered their own ideas on how to combat this serious problem. Proposals included introducing transparency measures for government officials (for example, requiring release of their tax information) and improving education regarding corruption for Cameroon’s school-age population.

Show #13 (23/7/12)- This week, GCI staff began discussing corruption. This topic will be the feature of the next three radio shows as well. Unfortunately, corruption is a huge problem in Cameroon – in fact, many would argue it is the country’s biggest problem. This week’s program introduced the concept, and GCI staff provided definitions as well as well as explanations of the different ways corruption can manifest. Interns Rachel Braden and Ariel Bilyeu shared their personal encounters with corruption during their stay in Cameroon. GCI staff also discussed the important, high-profile case currently going on in Cameroon: that of former interior minister Marafa Hamidou Yaya, who has been charged with embezzling $29 million intended as a down payment on a presidential jet. For more on this story click here

Show #12 (16/7/12)- For our final program regarding International Justice, the GCI team discussed the International Criminal Court. (Remember, The Day Celebrating International Justice is July 17!) The Court, which was founded in 1996 with the signing of the Rome Treaty and counts Cameroon among its member states, has jurisdiction over the following important crimes: War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Crimes of Aggression. The ICC was created in response to the many International Criminal Tribunals that were established in the wake of such Human Rights atrocities as were committed in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and Sierra Leone, among others. The purpose of this International Criminal Court is to provide a forum where heads of state and other important government officials may be held responsible for their actions in war, when their own governments either decline to or are incapable of holding them responsible in their own judicial system. In this week’s Human Rights Hour, we focused on how the ICC is relevant to the daily lives of our listeners. Although the ICC seems far away (it is headquartered in The Netherlands) and far removed from the average person’s daily life, it is in fact incredibly important for all citizens of our world. First of all, it serves as a guarantee to people everywhere that even the most powerful politicians and government officials will be held responsible for their actions, and that those who suffer as a result of these actions will indeed see justice. Secondly, while the crimes over which the court has jurisdiction seem nebulous and abstract, they in fact affect real people all over the world every day. People in Cameroon suffer torture, are conscripted as child soldiers, are victims of child trafficking and forced marriages, and suffer rape – every day. The ICC has jurisdiction over all these crimes, and therefore its creation directly affects everyone in Cameroon who has suffered any of these violations of their Human Rights. Through our discussion of the ICC and its applicability to the Cameroonian population, the GCI team hoped to illustrate one of the important ways International Justice is observed today.

Show #11 (9/7/12)- Yesterday’s show was the second in our series on international justice. For this segment, we concentrated on two cases of international justice occurring on the African continent: the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Interns Ariel Bilyeu and Rachel Braden shared background information on the two judicial bodies, and Director Ntebo Ebenezer lead an engaging conversation regarding convicted Liberian head of state Charles Taylor. The show focused particularly on how these two tribunals are relevant for citizens of Cameroon. Not only do Cameroonian judges serve on each of these tribunals, but the creation of the tribunals sends important messages to citizens all over the world. First, it shows the world that people who commit such crimes – even heads of state – will be held accountable for their actions. Secondly, it sends a message to the victims and potential victims of such crimes. It tells them that their suffering was not in vain; that the world heard their cries and that they will receive justice. Our final show on Monday July 16th will be all about the International Criminal Court (ICC) – the final word in international criminal justice.

Show #10 (2/7/12)- For our first show in July we introduced our next topic: international justice. Tuesday, July 17th is the Day for International Justice, and our next three shows are in observance of this important holiday. For show #10, we introduced the theme and defined international justice. We then had a discussion as to whether international justice does in fact occur in today’s society. Rachel and Ariel disagreed on this point: while Rachel believed it did, Ariel said it did not.

June 2012

Show #9 (25/6/12)- Interns Rachel and Ariel spearheaded this final show in our International Day Against Torture Series. Each intern spoke about research she had been conducting on the topic. Rachel mentioned the work she has been doing with the Mbalangi community, as this past Friday she and the Mbalangi Traditional Council had an involved discussion on the use of force to punish convicted criminals. Ariel spoke of her research regarding victims of torture here in Cameroon, and of their difficult fight to have their stories told. Both women reminded our listening audience that only by coming forward and speaking of their abuse can victims of torture hope to put an end to this ugly cycle.

Show #8(18/06/12)- GCI welcomed new intern Ariel Bilyeu, who joined the team that very day! We also continued with our month’s topic of torture. Rachel spoke about her experience working with a victim of torture under the UN Convention Against Torture, and Ariel shared some of the topics she wished to address during her tenure as our Prisoners’ Rights Project intern. Rachel also spoke about the upcoming workshops the CAMs project will be hosting in the nearby village of Mbalangi.

Show #7(11/06/12)- Ebenezer and international interns Dimitrios Lais and Rachel Braden introduced Human Rights Hour’s topic for the month of June: torture. June 26 is the International Day Against Torture, and in light of this, GCI is focusing all its June broadcasts on this very important topic. Ebenezer introduced new intern Rachel Braden, who joined the GCI team on June 4th. Rachel, Ebenezer and Dimitrios each shared their perspectives on torture and how they believed it was defined, and a special guest spoke of his experience as a prisoner in the Cameroonian prison system. We also bade goodbye to Dimitrios, who left the following Thursday to return to his home country of Greece.

March 2012

Show#6(12/03/2012)​- Ebenezer and international interns, Dimitrios Lais, Melina Hildebrand, and Leah Kelly alternated their experiences with each respective project and its progression. Also, in light of International Women’s Day the week before, both Leah and Melina shared their experiences and thoughts on Women’s Day and its relation to debates about gender equality in Cameroon.

February 2012

Show #5(27/02/2012)- After an introduction to Global Conscience and its projects for 2012, Ebenezer opened the lines for callers to ask questions regarding Human Rights violations.

December 2011

Show #4 (6/12/11): The Universal Declaration of Human Rights- Ebenezer and Daniella reviewed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Mary Louise, taking call-in questions on the application of human rights ideals as enshrined in the UDHR in everyday Cameroonian life.

November 2011

Show #3 (29/11/11): Introduction to Women’s Rights- Daniella sat down with RJ Mary Louise to deliver an introduction to women’s rights to the people of Kumba. The girls covered the basics of gender equality and women’s rights by looking at the difference between sex and gender, listing and describing various women’s rights, and laying out why gender equality is important for community development and all members of society.

Show #2 (22/11/11): Personal Mediation- Daniella and Tessa joined RJ Mary Louise in discussing personal mediation, or the method of resolving conflicts one-on-one. The girls offered conflict resolution advice to several callers and SMS messangers from the Kumba area. They also detailed the programme for Human Rights Week on Dec. 4-10.

Show #1 (15/11/11): GCI Reintroduction- CAM’s Director Orogo Minet and GCI International Interns Daniella Montemarano and Tessa Levine sat down with Ocean City RJ Mary Louise to relaunch Human Rights Hour on the Kumba airwaves. The ladies discussed the CAM’s Project, the Human Rights Club Project, and the upcoming Human Rights Week.