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African Commission - Death Penalty and Detention Conditions - August 2013

Report on the Death Penalty and Detention Conditions in the Republic of Cameroon Under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights in response to The Third Periodic Report of the Republic of Cameroon presented at The 53rd Ordinary Session of the Commission (April 2013), African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights 54th Ordinary Session (22 October - 5 November 2013)

Partner: Droits et Paix

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with Droits et Paix submitted a report on the death penalty and detention conditions in Cameroon to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights for its 54th Ordinary Session in October 2013. The report shows that despite a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, Cameroon continues to sentence people to death and retains the possibility of carrying out these sentences. The report also describes serious human rights violations in the country’s detention facilities.

The government of Cameroon has not officially executed anyone since 1997, but unofficial reports indicate that there are at least 77 people on death row, with one person sentenced as recently as May of 2012. Additionally, defendants who go to trial, including those who are charged with death-eligible crimes and others, often lack adequately trained legal representation.

Human rights violations in Cameroon’s detention facilities include torture, other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, prolonged pretrial detention, and inadequate medical treatment, nutrition, and shelter. Due to severe overcrowding, men, women, and children are commonly co-mingled at facilities in violation of international human rights standards.

This report offers several recommendations to the government of Cameroon, including:

  • Abolish the death penalty de jure;
  • Fully implement the Robben Island Guidelines on the prohibition and prevention of torture;
  • Enforce the law limiting the length of pretrial detention;
  • Commit additional funding to the prison system; and
  • Build additional facilities and expand existing prisons.