By Nzo N.N Mungu Esq.
Democracy simply understood has everything to do with the phrase “the people” irrespective of any one of elements such as age, race, gender, religion, societal status, put in place to serve as distinctions between persons. It’s all about the collectiveness of the people having the power to choose through participation knowing they are essential to the society to which they belong, a “Democratic Society”.
Human Rights owing to its name “Human Rights” are inborn and a possession of every human. These are natural and must be protected by law irrespective of a person’s residence, nationality, sex, color, ethnic origin, religion, language on any other status that distinguishes one person from another (does that sound familiar?).
Therefore, when elements such as the freedom of speech, discrimination against /persecution of Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queue become a norm in any society, Human Rights violations are in effect and thus we can no longer consider any society where such violations are perpetrated and normalize as a democratic society.
Democracy in Cameroon may be portrayed as though a bedrock of the country’s existence through engaging the people in various civic duties and also through the country’s ratification of over 9 International Human Rights Treaties including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in June of 1984; Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in January 1983; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1986 amongst others. But we all recall that fateful day, when the Law of Association of 19th December 1990 was passed and Cameroonians believed real democracy has come to life. WE WERE VERY WRONG.
Cameroonians have witnessed blatant disregard of not only the very fundamentals of a true democratic society/state, but they have also been allowed front row seats as various elements that constitute Human Rights are squashed at every turn.
One of the foundations for a healthy democracy to exist is Human Rights. These two are intertwined so much so that a country cannot boast of a great democracy when its Human Rights record is considered appalling to say the least.
It is therefore not surprising when anyone who dares to mount a serious enough dissent is subject to persecution. Those who choose to belong to any political group advocating change or any movement deemed unfavorable are silenced. Several Human Rights activists who dare to educate the masses about their inherent rights and/or expose various Human Rights violations perpetrated at various levels by state officials are subjected to arbitrary arrests and various forms of cruel and inhumane treatment.
Any person who dares to be different with regards to whom they chose to love or have as a partner is persecuted.
As a Human Rights activist and justice advocate, I say things have got to change. We need to stay true to the cause. Advocacy and activism go hand in hand. We must keep exposing however we can both those who perpetrate Human Right violations and their master(s).
The recent events and atrocities happening in Southern Cameroon are without measure. The consequences emanating from these occurrences would be felt in the lives of the people in that region and surely beyond for an impossible to determine length of time. And without any doubts, these would have lasting effects.
The above said, how can anyone be comfortable saying Cameroon is a democratic country? How can anyone say Cameroon is staying true to the various ratified Human Right treaties?
To be continued