Cameroon–Human Rights Council–Death Penalty–October 2017

The Advocates for Human Rights, along with the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, Droits et Paix, the Network of Cameroon Lawyers Against the Death Penalty, and Together Against the Death Penalty, submitted a joint stakeholder report addressing death penalty in the Republic of Cameroon for the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review.

In the second cycle of the UPR, Cameroon rejected 13 recommendations on the abolition of the death penalty. Cameroon cited the public’s continued support of the death penalty, although no study has documented popular support. Cameroon has since adopted new legislation such as the 2014 Anti-Terror Law and the 2017 Code of Military Justice that expands the category of offenses punishable by death to a total of 16 offenses. These new legal provisions use vague language and do not limit the death penalty to the most serious crimes as required by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Cameroon also regularly violates the rights of individuals who are not at risk of being sentenced to death—using confessions coerced through torture and denying the right to counsel and to a fair trial. The government also uses vaguely defined laws to justify the arbitrary arrest of activists. These factors contributed to the increasing number of death sentences, with courts having pronounced more than 100 between 2015 and 2016.

The authors of the report propose the following priority recommendations for the Government of Cameroon:

  • Amend the 2016 Penal Code, the 2014 Anti-Terrorism Act, and the 2017 Military Justice Code to eliminate the death penalty for any crime that does not involve intentional murder;
  • Request magistrates put in place a moratorium on the pronouncement of executions pending the abolition of the death penalty;
  • Annually publish information on the use and application of the death penalty, including statistics regarding the number of individuals on death row, the nature of the offenses for which the death penalty was imposed, the number of executions, the manner in which the executions took place, and the identities of the individuals sentenced and executed;
  • Take concrete measures to allow access to counsel; and
  • Ensure the full implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.