Cameroon

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Persistent violations
  • The persistence of female genital mutilation [1]
  • The practice of breast ironing [2]
  • The high rate of violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence [3]
  • The discrepancy in the minimum age of marriage for girls (15) and boys (18) [4]
  • The trafficking and prostitution of women and girls persists [5]
  • Only male children are regarded as heirs in matters of inheritance [6]
  • There is no systematic separation of minors from adults[7]
  • Inadequate health care services for children in prisons [8]
  • Unequal access to education for some children, such as girls and children from indigenous groups [9]
Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on civil and political rights, including questions of torture and detention
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Special Rapporteur on civil and political rights, including questions of torture and detention
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Universal Periodic Review



Introduction

Français

Sometimes referred to as Africa in miniature, Cameroon has a climatic diversity and cultural and social diversity that reflects that of the continent. Since gaining independence in 1960, Cameroon has experienced relative peace, but only very slow progress towards democracy: President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982. A number of serious human rights violations continue in the country, including harassment of political opponents, threats against human rights defenders and the oppression of LGBT persons.


Geography

Cameroon is located in Central Africa and is bordered by Nigeria to the west, Chad to the north and north-east, the Central African Republic to the East, Congo to the south east and Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to the south. The country's capital is Yaoundé.

Cameroon is sometimes referred to as Africa in miniature both because of its climatic diversity, which is tropical and dry in the north, and equatorial and humid in the south, and because of its cultural and social diversity.


Population and Language

The population of Cameroon was 19.4 million in 2005, according to a government census which was only recently published in 2010. There are over 250 tribes and clans in Cameroon, speaking some 280 languages [1]. Ethnic Fulanis practising Islam predominate in the north, while semi-Bantu and Bantu, who mainly practise Christianity or Animism, make up the majority in the south. A large number of Nigerians also live in the country and there is also a decreasing French presence, gradually being substituted by a growing Chinese population.


History and Politics

Cameroon was a German protectorate until 1916. After the First World War, the country was divided in two by the League of Nations and transferred to the United Kingdom and France under a Trusteeship. This history is reflected in today's use of English and French as the official languages. French, which is spoken by about 80 per cent of the population, remains the dominant language.

Politically, Cameroon has enjoyed relative peace since becoming independent in 1960. However, political tensions are rife: many Cameroonians, and young people in particular, are disillusioned and outraged by the slow progress made in terms of democracy and fundamental freedoms. The country's parliament recently passed an amendment to the constitution, enabling President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, to stand for election again in 2011.

Despite slow reforms to bring about democracy in the early 1990s, power remains firmly in the hands of Biya and his political party, Cameroon People's Democratic Movement. Opposition parties are marginalised; independent journalists and civil society activists who dare speak out against the government may face repression and persecution. One of the reasons why Biya remains firmly in power is due to the bitter division between the opposition parties.


Economy

On the economic front, Cameroon is an influential member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), which comprises Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Chad. This is mainly because of the fertility of its soils which favours agriculture, and its modest mining and oil resources. However, the country remains desperately poor and faces serious obstacles to development, not least pervasive corruption, weak infrastructure, a burdensome bureaucracy, and persistent spread of HIV and AIDS.


Media and Civil Society

In terms of freedom of expression, the country's ruling party controls the national radio and television stations (CRTV).


Human Rights and Children's Rights

See Persistent Violations.


Footnotes:

  1. Hauser Global Law School Program, Globalex Researching Cameroonian Law

Sources:


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