Protection of Children's Rights in Cameroon


Master's Thesis, 2015

111 Pages


Free online reading

TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION

CERTIFICATION

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABSTRACT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

TABLE OF CASES

TABLE OF STATUTES

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background to the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Objectives of the study
1.4 Research questions
1.5 Methodology
1.6 Scope of Study
1.7 Justification of the study
1.8 Significance of the research
1.9 Theoretical Framework
1.9.1 The Natural law theory
1.9.2 The Social justice theory
1.9.3 The Moral theory
1.9.4 The Concept of Child Labour
1.10 Contextual Definition of Key Concepts
1.11 Synopsis Of Chapters

CHAPTER TWO THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN AFRICA
2.1 The Various Rights of the Child Embodied in International Legal Instruments
2.1.1 Right to privacy
2.1.2 Protection of children’s rights during armed conflicts
2.1.3 Right to education
2.1.4 Right to Health and Health Services
2.1.5 Protection of Children from Child Labour
2.1.6 Right to participation
2.1.7 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
2.1.8 Protection of Children from Trafficking
2.2 Courts Protecting Children’s Rights in Africa
2.2.1 The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
2.2.2 The African Court of Justice and Human Rights
2.2.3 The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice
2.2.3.1 Background
2.2.3.2 The functioning of the court in protecting children’s rights
2.3 The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

CHAPTER THREE THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN CAMEROON
3.1 Rights of Children Protected by National Laws in Cameroon
3.1.1 Right to education
3.1.2 Right to Health and health services
3.1.3 Right to a standard of living
3.1.3.1 Parental responsibility
3.1.3.2 State responsibility
3.1.4 Right of a child during armed conflicts
3.1.4.1 Immediate term action
3.1.4.2 Short-term action
3.1.4.3 Medium-term action
3.1.5 Right of a Child Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
3.1.6 Right of a child against child labour
3.1.6.1 The legal framework
3.1.6.2 Work prohibited for children
3.1.7 Right of a child against the use of narcotic drugs
3.1.8 Right of a child who belongs to a minority or indigenous group
3.2 Legal Framework for the Protection of Children
3.3 Implementation of Measures Protecting Children’s Rights
3.3.1 Legislative and Regulatory Measures

CHAPTER FOUR CHILD LABOUR IN CAMEROON
4.1 Background of Child Labour in Cameroon
4.2 Causes of Child Labour
4.2.1 The family context
4.2.2 Poverty
4.2.3 Economic considerations
4.3 The Legal Framework to Combat Forced Labour in Cameroon
4.4 Implementation of the Laws on Forced Labour
4.4.1 Ministry of Labour and Social Security
4.4.2 National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms
4.4.3 The judiciary
4.4.4 Government policies
4.5 Forms of Child Labour in Cameroon
4.5.1 Child Trafficking
4.5.2 Sexual Exploitation

CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations

BIBLIOGRAPHY

TABLE OF CASES

Curtis Francis Doebbler v Sudan, Communication Number 236/2000 (2003).

SERAP (Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project) v The Federal Republic of Nigeria, ECW/CCJ/APP/0808, on October 27,2009

The People of Cameroon v Lucia Mbungson 2013 Sui no. HCF/03C/13

Zamcho Florence Lum v Chibikom Peter and Others, the Supreme Court Judgment No. 14/L of 4 February 1993

TABLE OF STATUTES

Law No. 67-LF-1 of 12 June 1967 on the Penal Code and all punishments for violations against children

Law No. 84/04 of July 1983 on Protection of Orphans.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989

The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Law No. 92/04 of 14 April 1992 on school orientation

Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992 on the Labour Code

Law No. 97/009 of 10 January 1997 against torture

Law No. 97/12 of 10 January 1997 on travelling conditions for foreign nationals in Cameroon.

Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on education

Law No. 98/006 of 14 April 1998, setting out the general provisions for practicing tourism..

Law No. 2004/16 of 22 July 2004, on the establishment, organization and functioning of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms

Law No. 2005/007 of 27 July 2005 on the Cameroon Criminal Procedure Code

Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 2005 Against Child Trafficking and Slavery in Cameroon..

Decree No. 2004/320 of 8 December 2004 on protection of children by Cameroonian ministerial departments

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

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DEDICATION

This work is dedicated to my mother Ekwen Hannah Nganyuo.

To my family members Ekwen Gerald, Ekwen Mirabel, Ekwen Edwin, Ekwen Calson.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I thank God almighty for giving me strength and inspiration that enabled me to complete this work. This work is the culmination of combined efforts of many people.

I reserve special appreciation for my supervisor, Professor J B Fonyam; I could not have wished more than to have someone of his calibre as my supervisor. His mastery of legal research, patience at my failings, guidance and encouragement, diligence, appetite for research and his timely response were the assets I needed most to carry this research through.

I thank all the lecturers of the Department of Law, University of Buea, such as Professor Martha Tumnde, Professor Yanou Michael, Dr.Sone, Dr Sama Lang, Dr.Ekome, Dr.Boma Alvine for their time and efforts in educating me.

I wish also to extend my sincere appreciation to my LLM classmates Mokube Ngonde, Sona Mukete, Asonga Patrick, Mrs. Ewonkem Marianna, Esseme Maureen, Barrister Ogbe, Mbianyor Arrey, Maitre Ntankeu, Barrister Akamin Ade Shallot, and Barrister Tabi for their encouragement.

I would like to acknowledge my friends: Arrey Lwanga, Chembe Atanga, Tansuika Joyse, Bine Ngwane, Azeyeh Igor, Besong Edward, Abang Esther who gave me moral support when I needed it most during my studies.

ABSTRACT

Children are human beings below the age of 18 years. They are unique and privileged since they are a vulnerable group of human beings. Children have human rights such as the right to education, health and a standard of living. These rights have to be respected and protected. The ideas that animated children’s right movement developed after the Second World War and the atrocities of The Holocaust. Children are often victims of bad treatment, negative social and cultural practices, sexual abuse and all forms of economic hazardous exploitation. This research exposes child labour as a major infringement of child rights that needs to be eliminated. Children engage in this activity out of desperation or are forced. Although they are coming from poor families, some of them have to work. Others are trafficked and forced to work in plantations while others are in commercial sexual exploitation. It therefore becomes necessary to investigate on activities violating children’s rights and possible mechanisms. This work adopts the doctrinal research method which is appropriate in law. It therefore makes use of content analysis. International legal instruments protecting children’s rights at the international level are discussed in relation to the various rights of children. In Cameroon, international legal instruments have precedence over national instruments protecting children’s rights. These international legal instruments are ratified and applied with other national instruments protecting children’s rights, yet, these rights are still violated. It is recommended that measures should be taken to intensify the fight against child labour in the area of education. Cameroon has a good legal framework for the protection of children’s rights. However, child labour which is manifested in its various forms only suggests that more is expected from the government in protecting children’s rights.

CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background to the Study

Children have a unique and privileged place in the society since they are a vulnerable group of human beings. The age limit as set by the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child is below the age of 18 years1. African children need special care and protection. In this regard, all humans below the age of 18 are so considered children and as such entitled to the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, thought, religion and conscience2.

Many of the basic ideas that animated children’s rights movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World War, and the atrocities of The Holocaust3, that culminated in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The true forerunner of human rights and children’s rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which appeared as part of the medieval natural law tradition. It became prominent during the age of enlightenment with philosophers such as John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, and Jean- Jacques Rousseau and featured prominently in the political discourse of the American Revolution and the French Revolution4. From this foundation, the modern human rights and children’s rights arguments emerged.5 This was a reaction to slavery, torture, genocide, and war crimes, was due to inherent human vulnerability, and as being a precondition for the possibility of a just society.6

Children are often victims of bad treatment, negative social and cultural practices, sexual abuse and all forms of economic hazardous exploitations including commercial sexual exploitation7. They are brought to urban areas by their guardians with the aim of taking care of them and providing for their wellbeing. But thus, they are turned into slaves and even work beyond their strength. Some of them work with no pay which results to child maltreatment and injustice. They are exposed to hazardous working conditions which are extremely dangerous to their health and wellbeing as a child. Some are kidnapped and trafficked for man’s selfish interests. Others are forced to beg on streets and get involved in the illegal use of drugs8. These activities violate children’s rights and welfare and destroy their dreams of becoming future African leaders of tomorrow9.

It is true to say that International Law has always considered as one of its fundamental purposes the maintenance of peace.10 Situations of human rights violations are inevitable and no matter their nature, their occurrence is a problem and has to be addressed. The prosecution for human rights violation cases, especially as concerns children’s rights is embodied in various International legal instruments.

In November 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (hereafter referred to as CRC) and this treaty went into force less than a year in September 199011. African leaders decided to adopt their own version of the CRC; the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (hereafter referred to as the African Children’s Charter), which was adopted in July 1990 went into force in November 199912. These are two internationally recognized treaties protecting children’s rights and welfare in Africa. There are others such as the Declaration on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Also, some courts protect children’s rights and welfare in Africa such as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This is a continental court established by African countries to ensure protection of human and peoples’ rights in Africa. It compliments and reinforces the functions of the African Commission for Human and Peoples’ Rights.

In Cameroon, the CRC and the African Children’s Charter (hereafter referred to as ACRWC) were recognized, accepted and ratified13 as part of its laws ensuring the protection of children’s rights and welfare.14 As per article 45 of the Constitution of Cameroon, the ratified treaties and international agreements take precedence over national laws.15 Cameroon is seen to be a monist state in terms of the status of International instruments duly ratified by the government. However, with regards to the application of ratified treaties, Cameroon is dualist as such treaties only take effect through domestication by national law.

Cameroon also has various legislative acts and decrees protecting children’s rights and welfare such as (Section 1) of Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 200516. Children should not be victims of torture. That is why Law No. 97/009 of 10 January 1997 states that the practice of torture in Cameroon has to be stopped at all cost and sanctions meted out. Section 7 of Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 stipulates that everyone is entitled to education regardless of sex, religion, age, political opinion and social origin17. Orphans can be adopted and guided by foster parents, foster homes or orphanages with good intention to take care of the children as per Law No. 84/04 of July 1983. However, the government has created several ministerial departments responsible for the rights of children with respect to Decree No. 2004/320 of 8 December 2004.18

The State has also transferred powers to various councils to provide aid and relief to the destitute and the needy subject to a prior social inquiry carried out by a social worker in a social action centre located within the jurisdiction of the councils.19 Therefore, children or minors in need of help due to violation of their rights can report their cases to various social action centres such as nongovernmental organizations (hereafter referred to as NGOs) who can channel their cases to the council for adequate attention. In 2003, The International Labour Organization (ILO) established programs in collaboration with the International Program on the Elimination of Child labour (IPEC) to combat violation of children’s rights in Cameroon such as the West African Cocoa/ Agricultural Program to eliminate child labour (WACAP), with the following objectives:

- To establish a sustainable mechanism to withdraw and prevent children from hazardous child labour in the cocoa sector;
- To strengthen the capacity of national and community level agencies and organizations to plan, initiate, implement, and evaluate action to prevent and progressively eliminate child labour;
- To remove all children involved in hazardous work in the cocoa sector;
- To prevent children at risk from entering such work; and to improve the income earning capacity of adult family members, through social protection schemes so as to improve their abilities to take care of their children for a brighter future.20

The law generally protects children from exploitation in the workplace and specifies penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment for infringement; however, child labour, particularly in informal sectors, remained a problem. The ILO Convention No. 182 calls for the prohibition and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour as a matter of urgency by exposing the importance of a child’s education and solidarity with others in protecting a child21. The ILO is in partnership with organizations such as Nkumu Fed Fed, located in Cameroon in protecting children’s rights especially female children from being victims of child labour22. The government attempts to combat the worst form of child labour through the Labour Code. It ensures that children should not work in underground restaurants, bars, hotels or any job that exceeds their physical capacity in the industrial zone as per Law No. 017 of the Labour Code.23

A 2009 study conducted by the German Development Organization (GTZ) reported that an estimated 432,000 girls have been raped in the past 20 years: 20% of those raped were perpetrated by family members, and the average age of victims was 15 years. According to Flavien Ndoko, the head of GTZ’s HIV/AIDS program, rape has steadily increased and only about one in 20 rapists was convicted. A campaign led by GTZ in 2009 encouraged victims to speak publicly about rape.

Approximately, 2000 children live on the streets of some major urban areas in Cameroon. The Project to Fight the Phenomenon of Street Children, a governmental project in partnership with NGOs, gathered information on street children and offered healthcare, education, and psychological care; the project also bolstered the intake capacities of specialized centres.

There is a gradual alarming practice of child labour in Cameroon. According to the 2008 government statistics on child labour in Cameroon, 85.2% of working children were employed in the agriculture sector, either on some family subsistence plots or on tea, banana, and palm oil plantations. In the urban informal sector, children work as street vendors, car washers, and domestic workers.24

There is concern over the types of tasks on which children are employed. Children below the age of 14 years are vendors in various streets of Buea, being used by their parents or foster parents to make a living out of their labour. The notorious areas in which they are found selling are Mile 17 car park, Check Point market and the streets of Molyko. Activities such as hawking expose children to the dangers of the streets. Children work as household helpers, and some are involved in prostitution. Some are laboured harshly in farms so as to cultivate food and sell for their parents’ gain.

Children are involved in agricultural activities such as pesticide application and clearing of banana and tea plantations with machetes. These two tasks are classified as potentially hazardous forms of work for young children. Such are being carried out because those violating children’s rights are ignorant of the law protecting their rights. It has however been rightly pointed out that ‘any work done by a child below working and remuneration standards as established by law should be considered as economic exploitation of the child.’25

1.2 Statement of the Problem

There is a good enforcement mechanism of children’s rights at the international and national level. This is evident in various international Conventions and Declarations such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC), and the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990 (The African Children’s Charter). Cameroon to this effect has ratified the CRC and the African Children’s Charter. Cameroon has a good legal framework such as the Labour Code, Penal Code, and Criminal Procedure Code. This notwithstanding, there is the continuous practice of child labour. Children are taken from rural areas to urban areas by foster parents with promises of care and education, whereas, they are turned into labourers and victims of domestic violence. Some are converted into public vendors in streets aged 5 to 14 years.

This violation is also manifested in the various forms of child labour such as child trafficking and sexual exploitation especially child prostitution. The practice of child trafficking affects the protection of children’s rights in Cameroon. Children are trafficked from the rural areas to urban areas to be used as labourers, hawkers, prostitutes, thieves and street beggars.26 Cameroonian legislation is silent on harmful practices on female children such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), breast ironing and forced marriages .Female Genital Mutilation involves the partial or the total removal of the female genital organs for cultural reasons27. It is commonly carried out in the rural areas of Cameroon like Manyu and Far North. This practice has consequences on female children such as severe pain and bleeding, shock, urine retention, ulceration of the genital regions, injury to the adjacent tissue and death28. It contributes to the violation of children’s rights29. It is against the Penal Code as it is assault.

With regards to breast ironing, it is commonly done to female children who are developing breast. It involves the pounding and massaging of the developing breast of young girls from about 8 years with hot objects to try to make them disappear30. It is initially done by women with the thought of improving a mother’s breast milk31. This thought has gradually changed and it is now inflicted on female children as young as the age of 9. In urban areas, this practice is believed to protect a girl from sexual harassment or rape, and to prevent early pregnancy that will tarnish the family name. It is commonly done in the Littoral region of Cameroon.32 It leads to harmful effects such as abscess in the breast, breast pimples on and around the breast nipples, chest pain, deformities and complete disappearance of the breasts33. This practice is done against their will, therefore violates their human rights.

Female children are forced to get married without their will or consent. This is because most of their parents are in financial difficulties which make them take the decision of early marriages. Some are forced due to the fact that it is a traditional practice. They get affected emotionally and psychologically. This mostly occurs in the rural areas, thus, violating children’s rights34.

The protection of children’s rights especially the right to health requires the provision of health facilities that can be only be achieved when there is adequate finance. Free vaccines are given to children but it is not sufficient to accord protection to them. Parents have difficulties affording hospital bills for their sick children. As a result many suffer. Also, there are very few regional hospitals which cannot attend to all children or infants who are sick. This has led to a gradual increase in infant mortality rate35.

The right of children to education is not fully protected in Cameroon. Cameroon has a good primary and secondary education system which has provided significant improvements in educational opportunities for children such as the opportunity to be learned.36 However, the Cameroonian education system still faces challenges in providing quality education to all children. Regional, wealth, and gender disparities take a toll on children and put vulnerable groups at risk for not attending school, and being further disadvantaged in life opportunities.37 Living in rural areas doubles the risk of not attending school and poor children are five times more likely to be out of school than children from rich households. This is because some parents are having financial difficulties in affording school materials for their children and prefer to labour them to hawk or sell for their educational wellbeing. These education challenges pose a threat to the economic future and viability of Cameroon and deprive children of their right to a quality education.

The Cameroon National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms which is the main enforcement mechanism of violations of children’s rights is impeded in its duty in this respective. This is due to two reasons. Firstly, the National Commission for Human rights and Freedoms is not independent from the government. This is evident for the fact that the government appoints its key personnel and funds the commission. With this scenario, it becomes difficult for the commission to write ill about the government. Serious violations of children’s rights are therefore not reported. Secondly, decisions of the commission relating to human rights violation are not binding. As such, it does not deter violation of children’s rights.38

1.3 Objectives of the study

General objective

The purpose of this work is to continually aver the rights of children, investigate the current alarming practices violating children’s rights in Cameroon, and to assess the mechanisms put in place to combat the practices.

Specific objectives

The specific objectives are:

- To critically analyze the rights of the child in Africa
- To examine the protection of the rights of the child in Cameroon
- To critically examine child labour as a violation of the child’s rights in Cameroon
- To make policy recommendations

1.4 Research questions

The questions which this research seeks to answer are:

- How are the rights of the child protected in Africa?
- Are children’s rights protected in Cameroon?
- Is child labour prevalent in Cameroon?
- What policy recommendations can be made to help Cameroon protect children’s rights?

1.5 Methodology

The method used in this study is doctrinal. This work will use the qualitative research method appropriate in law. Data will be generated using a qualitative research technique which is content analysis of primary and secondary data obtained from textbooks, newspapers, journal articles and internet searches. The primary sources will comprise of Conventions, Declarations, statutes, Charters. The secondary sources will comprise of textbooks, journal and newspaper articles.

1.6 Scope of Study

This study will cover violation of children’s rights in Cameroon. Even though the topic talks of Africa, I have limited myself to Cameroon which is the microcosm of Africa. We shall examine the various legal instruments as they are applicable in Cameroon.

1.7 Justification of the study

The reason for carrying out this research is to investigate about children’s rights and the activities violating these rights in Cameroon. There are many violations to children’s rights that need to be addressed, such as: violence, child labour, and sexual exploitation. Over the years, children have been confronted with adversities as diverse as HIV/AIDS epidemics, armed conflict and other forms of civil unrest, natural disasters, hazardous work, trafficking, street living and family abuse and neglect, among others39. Although the government around has attempted to eradicate these violations, they continue to exist to a significant extent.

The researcher intends examining the international conventions ratified by Cameroon, its national laws and the implementation of these instruments protecting children’s rights. Cameroon has ratified many international conventions that guarantee the rights of children, such as the CRC, the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child. Cameroon is considered to be a monist state in terms of the status of international instruments duly ratified by the government, especially given that there is no Bill of Rights in Cameroonian law.40 However, with regards to the application of ratified treaties, Cameroon is dualist as such treaties only take effect through domestic legal measures of incorporation.41

This research also seeks to ascertain whether the laws established by Cameroon to protect children’s rights face any problems. The alarming rate of violation of children’s rights in Cameroon is worth examining vis-à-vis the international standards enshrined in various conventions ratified by Cameroon.

1.8 Significance of the research

The outcome of this research will be use to legal scholars as well as law students, human rights activists, humanitarians and parents. This study is significant in many ways.

Firstly, it will provide a general knowledge on children’s rights, especially to people who are ignorant of them. There are many people, especially parents and foster parents who are ignorant of their children’s rights. They believe that whatever they command, it must be done by their children regardless of their consent and rights, such as forceful marriages. Such parents will now have the opportunity to know about their children’s rights, the laws protecting them and sanctions for their violation.

Also, legal scholars and law students will be sensitized on the various national and international instruments protecting children’s rights. This will help them in their legal activities and research carried out for this purpose. It will also strengthen the academic background of law students.

On the part of human rights activists and humanitarians, they all have a common goal which is the wellbeing of others for a better world. It is noted that they carry out activities to attain this goal and children are always a prime target to help. Knowledge about the protection of children’s rights and welfare in Africa and Cameroon will not only help them with a good strategy to enforce children’s rights and welfare, but also with a deep knowledge of various international and national laws protecting children.

1.9 Theoretical Framework

This study is premised on the Natural law theory, the Social justice theory, and the Moral theory.

1.9.1 The Natural law theory

This theory is a philosophical and legal belief that all humans are born with inherent rights by nature. It is the unwritten body of universal moral principles that underlie the ethical and legal norms by which human conduct is sometimes evaluated and governed. This is because all humans are governed by basic laws of nature. Naturalists believe that natural law principles are an inherent part of nature and exist regardless of whether governments recognize or enforce them. Authors such as John Locke propounded that human beings are by nature free and equal. He also stated that people have rights such as the right to life, liberty and property.42 Marcus Tullius Cicero propounded that natural law is true law in agreement with nature which is applied universally, unchanging and everlasting.43 However, other authors have opposing views about the natural law theory. This opposing view of natural law can be traced to Thomas Hobbes, whose writings are largely devoted to showing the anarchy and civil wars caused by appeals to natural and divine laws above the will of the sovereign. Hobbes rejected traditional higher law doctrines and encouraged people to accept the established laws and customs of their nations, even if they seemed oppressive, for the sake of civil peace and security. His critique has been a leading cause of the demise of natural law.44

The researcher’s point of view is in support of the Natural Law theory because all human beings are born free with equal rights. These rights are inherent and therefore have to be respected and protected in the society. This theory is also reflected in publications like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in its article 1 which states that all humans are born free with equal rights.45 This study examines the influence of this theory in the protection of children’s rights and welfare. Children have natural rights due to natural law, which have to be protected.

1.9.2 The Social justice theory

Social justice is the ability people have to realize their potential in the society where they live46. Also, social justice is defined as justice that conforms to a moral principle, such as that all people are equal. It is a theory which advocates for egalitarianism in the way persons are treated. John Rawls considered social justice to be a group of people who are free and equal in a society.47 He advocated for liberty and equality to be applied in a society. He stated that each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others48. Allan Bloom49 criticized Rawls for failing to account for the existence of natural rights in his theory of justice. According to him, he stated that Rawls’ failure in accounting for the existence of natural rights in his theory of justice made it an incomplete theory50. As per the view of the researcher, social justice should be free and equal rights which people possess and respect towards one another in a society. The International Labour Organization (ILO) affirms that universal and lasting peace can only be established if it has as its basis, social justice51. The preamble to the constitution of Cameroon alludes to social justice in these terms “all persons shall have equal rights and obligations”52. It would be shown in this work that there is a problem between these proclamations and the respect for children’s rights. Children’s free and equal rights are seriously violated because most of them are forced to carry out activities out of their will such as child labour, forced marriages, prostitution.

1.9.3 The Moral theory

As per the moral theory, everyone is entitled to human rights which also come with their duty or obligation to respect it. This duty is the moral obligation not to violate anyone’s right. The moral theory is related to natural rights by the fact that everyone is born free and has equal rights towards one another. Authors such as Immanuel Kant described the moral theory to be actions morally right by virtue of someone’s motives, which must be derived more from duty than from inclination.53

The German philosopher G.W.F Hegel criticized Kant for not providing specific enough details in his concept of the moral theory to affect decision making and for not including human nature.54 Therefore, human beings have the moral duty to help and protect others, and it should be part of their human nature. Children are protected by the moral theory but it is realized that people tend to violate their rights and the moral obligation towards them. Parents maltreat children, violating their moral duty to take care of them with love, care and kindness. This provides children with their legal and moral rights to be represented and report any form of gross human rights violation they are suffering from. Therefore, the moral theory enforces moral justice to people, especially children suffering from human rights violation, to establish a better society.

1.9.4 The Concept of Child Labour

Child labour refers to the employment of children in any work that deprives children of their childhood, interferes with their ability to attend regular school. This is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful55. This practice is considered exploitative by many international organizations such as the ILO, United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (hereafter referred to as UNICEF), PLAN and ABEMO- Women of vision. Legislations across the world prohibit child labour56 but they do not prohibit all activities carried out by children. There are certain activities which are considered just and legal to carry out such as children attending training programs with maximum supervision, assisting parents at home with manual work, and school based activities such as manual labour. These activities help children to be brought up in a proper way, to be morally up right and to know how to serve in life.

Child labour was being employed at varying degrees throughout history. Before 1940, many children aged 5 to 14 worked in Europe, the United States and other colonies of European powers. These children worked in agriculture, home based assembly operations, factories, mining, and in services such as porting. Some worked night shifts lasting 12 hours.57 With the rise of house hold income, the availability of schools and the enactment of child labour laws due to human rights and children’s rights movements, the incidence rates of child labour fell. In developing countries, with high poverty and poor schooling opportunities, child labour is still prevalent. In 2010, Sub Saharan Africa had the highest incidence rates of child labour, with several African nations witnessing over 50% of children aged 5 to 14 years and working. Agriculture is the highest employment of child labour in Africa. The vast majority of child labour is found in the rural settings and informal urban economy; children are predominantly employed by their parents, rather than factories.58 Poverty and lack of schools are considered as the primary cause of child labour.59 The total number of child labourers remains high, with UNICEF and ILO’s statistics, acknowledging an estimated 168 million children aged 5 to 17 years worldwide and involved in child labour in 2013.60

1.10 Contextual Definition of Key Concepts

The concepts a child, human rights, human rights protection, children’s rights are used in this study in the context explained below.

a. Child

A child, as per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.61 The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child also defines a child to be a human being below the age of 18 years.62 Therefore, a child is a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority.63

Children are classed as unable to make serious decisions, unlike adults. They must always be under the care of a responsible adult. There are many issues that affect children such as childhood education, child labour, child poverty leading to hunger, the carrying out of illegal activities, dysfunctional families, and bullying. Children in some countries are often kept out of school or attend only for short periods. In 2011, 57 million children have never attended primary school or have left without completing primary school education64.

They can be raised by parents, in a foster care or similar supervised arrangement, guardians or partially raised in a day care centre.

b. Human rights

Human rights are moral principles that set out certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law. They are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because he or she is a human being”. Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within International Law, global, and regional institutions.

c. Human rights protection

To protect human rights is to ensure that people receive some degree of decent humane treatment. Responsibility to protect human rights resides first and foremost with the states themselves with their laws practiced in their countries. In some cases, the perceived need to protect human rights and maintain peace has led to humanitarian intervention. There is evidence that we are moving towards the notion that the governments have not only a duty to respect human rights, but also a duty to safeguard these rights, preserve life and protect people from having their rights violated by others. However, there exist various governmental and nongovernmental organizations taking part in the protection of people’s human rights. In any society, every human being has a duty to respect the human rights of others which calls for protection and sanctions for violations.

d. Children’s rights

Children’s rights are the human rights of children with particular attention to the rights of special protection and care afforded to minors65. These rights include their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for food, universal state paid education, health care, criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child. Other rights include equal protection of the child’s civil rights, freedom from discrimination on the basis of the child’s race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, colour, ethnicity or other characteristics. Interpretations of children’s rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse, though what constitutes “abuse” is a matter of debate. Other definitions include the rights to care and nurturing66.

The notion that children are right bearers rather than passive recipients of their parents and state’s paternalistic favour and largesse, is of relatively recent origin. The existence of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and the AU’s African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 1990 strengthens children’s rights. In the intervening period, a number of post 1990 Constitutions of African states started incorporating children’s rights.

1.11 Synopsis Of Chapters

The research is comprised of five chapters. Chapter one is the general introduction that is, it introduces the main ideas of the work such as the research problem and research questions which are the issues to be investigated. It equally pinpoints the justification and significance of the study.

Chapter two is based on the protection of the rights of the child in International law. In the chapter, the various courts in Africa that are instrumental in the protection of children’s rights are examined. The various rights of the child embodied in international legal instruments such as the CRC and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child are equally examined in this chapter.

Chapter three dwells on the protection of the rights of the child in Cameroon. It evaluates the legal framework for the protection of the rights of the child in Cameroon, that is, the national laws of Cameroon relating to the protection of children’s rights.

Other mechanisms set up by Cameroon to give effect to the national laws are also discussed in this chapter.

Chapter four describes Child labour in Cameroon. This chapter critically examines child labour in Cameroon. It begins with the causes of child labour. The forms of child labour in Cameroon are also discussed in this chapter. Child trafficking which is a typical form of child labour is discussed in detail that is the legislation relating to child trafficking in Cameroon, and the mechanism to combat it in Cameroon. Sexual exploitation is also pointed out as a form of child labour prevalent in Cameroon.

Chapter five is the conclusion and recommendations. The conclusion presents a summary of the work and the findings emanating from the research questions and specific objectives. Recommendations are made to redress the problems raised in chapter one.

CHAPTER TWO THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN AFRICA.

The protection of children’s rights in Africa is part of the global effort to enforce international human rights law at the regional level. This chapter discusses the protection of children’s rights in Africa. In this light, it answers the first research question and as such attains the first specific objective. This chapter is underpinned by the natural law theory and the social justice theory. With regards to the natural law theory, it was the felt need to protect the inalienable rights of all human beings that various legal instruments relating to children’s rights in Africa such as ACRWC were adopted. The moral theory is used to justify the implementation of children’s rights in Africa which is illustrated in implementing bodies such as the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice. These implementing bodies redress violations of children’s rights which the moral theory strongly condemns.

2.1 The Various Rights of the Child Embodied in International Legal Instruments

There are various rights and freedoms of the child embodied in international legal instruments to wit: right to privacy, education, health and health services, participation, children’s rights, freedom of thought, conscience and religion. Also these instruments protect children from child labour and child trafficking. This work lays emphasis on the CRC and the African Children’s Charter because they are the main basic instruments that contain provisions relating to children’s rights.

2.1.1 Right to privacy

Children have their right to privacy. This right is enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights. Article 10 provides thus:

No child shall be subject to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family home or correspondence, or to attacks upon his honour, or reputation, provided that parents or legal guardians shall have the right to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of their children. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

This provision properly guarantees children’s rights even though the child’s right to privacy is subject to the right of parents or legal guardians to exercise reasonable supervision over the conduct of the child. The CRC also guarantees the child’s right to privacy as per its article 16 but unlike the African Children’s Charter that recognizes the role of parental supervision, the CRC does not take into account such a role. This is evident in article 16. It states that “Children have a right to privacy. The law should protect them from attacks against their way of life, their good name, their families and their homes”.

From the above provision, it is clear that the protection of children’s rights in the African Children’s Charter differs from the protection accorded to children in the CRC. It is debatable which of the two documents is more suitable for children’s protection.67 It is the view of this researcher that the provision on the right of privacy for a child stated in the African Children’s Charter is more suitable reason being that parents are the architects of a child’s development.68 Children being ignorant need parental guidance in order for them not to go astray and to prevent them from societal ills such as pornography, cyber bullies and scams. Such activities are beyond their capabilities to handle, which brings in the role of parents.

2.1.2 Protection of children’s rights during armed conflicts

Another area in which children’s rights are protected is in situations of armed conflicts. Children nowadays are recruited or forced to be soldiers of rebel groups. A good example is the Boko Haram Islamic jihadist terrorist group based in Northern Nigeria which is against western influence in Africa. Their network has spread to Chad and Northern Cameroon. They take pleasure in killing people and abducting children. They also destroy schools providing western education to children. On the 20th of April 2012, the rebel group burnt down 14 schools in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, Northern Nigeria. They forced 7000 children out of formal education and made them child soldiers.69 They also raided two Tourou villages in Cameroon, kidnapping 50 young children to be used as child soldiers.70 The protection of children from recruitment into the armed forces is enshrined in article 22(2) of the African Children’s Charter. It enjoins states to take all necessary measures to ensure that no child shall take a direct part in hostilities and refrain in particular, from recruiting any child.

The CRC also protects children in armed conflicts as per article 38. It states:

Governments must do everything they can to

protect and care for children affected by war.

Children under 15 should not be forced or recruited

to take part in a war or join the armed forces.

This right has been further developed. The age for direct participation of children in armed conflicts has been raised to 18 thereby establishing a ban on compulsory recruitment for children under 18.71

It is right to say that the African Children’s Charter departs slightly from the guarantee under the CRC. This is because the Charter requires states to refrain from recruiting children into armed forces. In line with article 2 of the Charter72, this means water tight prohibition on the recruitment of persons below the age of 18 years. Conversely, the CRC only prohibit the recruitment of youths below 15 years. Hence, the Charter prohibits persons under the age of 18 to take part in hostilities while the CRC allows children between 15 and 18 years to be used directly in hostilities. However, an attempt to partially redress this situation is found in the Optional Protocol to the CRC as pointed out above.73

The protection of children in armed conflicts is also guaranteed in the Geneva Convention of 1949. This convention recognizes children as the subjects of special respect and protects them against any form indecent assault74. Parties to conflicts are therefore obliged to provide them with the care and aid they require, whether because of their age or for any other reason.

2.1.3 Right to education

This right of a child to education is geared towards preparing the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, tolerance, dialogue, mutual respect, and friendship among all people’s ethnic, tribal, and religious groups.75 The right to education is a universal entitlement to education. This is recognized in the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as a human right76 that includes the right to free, compulsory primary education for all; an obligation to develop secondary education accessible to all, in particular by the progressive introduction of free secondary education, as well as an obligation to develop equitable access to higher education; ideally by the progressive introduction of free higher education.77

An important aspect of the right to education accorded to children is the nature of primary education which is free. This aspect is reiterated in the CRC which provides that all Children have the right to a primary education which should be free.78 This helps in the promotion of educational development in Africa.

A salient feature of the right to education accorded to children in the CRC and the African Children’s Charter is unlike the African Children’s Charter which makes provisions guaranteeing the child’s right to education at the primary, secondary and higher level; the CRC only makes provisions guaranteeing a child’s right to education at the primary and secondary level. Free education provided in the CRC and African Children’s Charter is imperative given that it will enable pupils to concentrate on learning and gaining more through education, instead of struggling with the payment of tuition fees and meeting other expenses.79

2.1.4 Right to Health and Health Services

Generally, the right to health is stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights80 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Civil and Political Rights81. Article 14 (1) and (2) of the African Children’s Charter ensures that every child has the right to enjoy the best attainable state of physical, mental and spiritual health and has access to health facilities. Article 24 of the CRC also plays same role in protecting the child’s right to health. Both international instruments have an admirable concern and effort in protecting children’s rights. The CRC even goes further in its provision, by urging rich countries to help poor countries in the provision of health services, protecting children’s health82.

2.1.5 Protection of Children from Child Labour

The international legal instruments also protect children from child labour. This activity affects children negatively, either directly or indirectly, the security, health, (mental or physical) and their physical and moral development. The adverse effects of such labour on the child might come as a result of its excessive intensity in terms of its physical demands or the number of hours required to accomplish a task. Article 15 of the African Children’s Charter protects children from child labour. It protects children from all forms of economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous. Article 32 of the CRC also protects children from child labour.

It ensures that governments must protect children from work that is dangerous and can harm a child’s health or education. It is realized that both international instruments put pressure on state parties83 and governments84 to take all appropriate measures in protecting children from child labour. However, from the aforementioned articles, the CRC protects children from child labour broadly while the African Children’s Charter combats such an activity in details. The CRC should adopt the approach of the African Children’s Charter. Child labour is also prohibited in ILO Conventions No. 138 and No. 182. This Convention enjoins members to pursue a national policy designed to ensure the effective abolition of child labour and to raise progressively the minimum age for admission to employment or work to a level consistent with the fullest physical and mental development of young persons.85

According to the Convention, the expression "the worst forms of child labour" comprises:(a) all forms of slavery or practices similar to slavery, such as the sale and trafficking of children, debt bondage and serfdom and forced or compulsory labour, including forced or compulsory recruitment of children for the use in armed conflict;

(b) the use, procuring or offering of a child for prostitution, for the production of pornography or for pornographic performances; (c) the use, procuring or offering of a child for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of drugs as defined in the relevant international treaties;(d) work which, by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out, is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children.86

2.1.6 Right to participation

Children have the right to participate in various activities of their choice, so long as it does not hurt their wellbeing. These activities may be social, economic or cultural in nature. As per article 12 of the African Children’s Charter, state parties recognize the right of a child to rest, leisure and engage in play or recreational activities. Article 31 of the CRC grants same right to a child. Such activities help a child to be learned, educated and have knowledge about certain aspects of life, thus fostering child development. However, it is the view of this researcher that in the African society, some of the cultural activities are harmful to children.

The African traditional ethnics may see it to be normal but yet it violates children’s rights. A good example is the killing of twin babies, killing of albino children, Female Genital Mutilation and breast ironing of girl children. That is why Article 1 (3) and article 21 of the African Children’s Charter aims at protecting children from such cultural activities which violate their human rights. Article 36 of the CRC also ensures to protect children from any activity which results to the bad treatment of the child. Therefore, children are free to participate solely in activities which make them happy and not that which is inconsistent with their lives. Their parents’ guide will help them not to participate in harmful activities as per article 5 of the CRC and article 20 of the African Children’s Charter.

2.1.7 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

The international legal instruments protect a child’s freedom of thought, conscience and religion. A child is free to think and feel in whatever way he or she wants. A child is also free to choose any religion he or she pleases. This is enshrined in article 9 of the African Children’s Charter and article 14 of the CRC.

Recognition of parental guardians by article 9 (2) and (3) of the African Children’s Charter and article 14 of the CRC is imperative owing to the fact that children can easily have the wrong belief and religion which violate the rights of others. On their own, they are vulnerable which makes them easily fed and convinced with the wrong ideas. Therefore, the role of parents is very essential in guiding their children in the knowledge and practice of their rights and freedoms.

2.1.8 Protection of Children from Trafficking

Trafficking refers to the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt, whether by force or not by a third person or group.87 Child trafficking as will be discussed subsequently is a form of child labour.

Children are also protected from trafficking. Most children are trafficked to be sold as slaves or labourers to individuals. The most common activity which children are sold for is prostitution. Therefore, girl children are always victims of such a harmful activity. Trafficking in children is prohibited by article 29 of the African Children’s Charter and article 11 of the CRC. For instance, the CRC enjoins states to take all appropriate measures to prevent the abduction, sale and trafficking in children. It also condemns the practice of parents or legal guardians who traffic with children to carry out illegal activities in various regions, such as begging

2.2 Courts Protecting Children’s Rights in Africa

There are various courts protecting and enforcing human rights for the African people. These courts are the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court of Justice and Human Rights and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice.88 Two of these human rights courts were merged which are the African courts on human and people’s rights and the African court of justice.

2.2.1 The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights

This is a court that was created to hear human rights violation cases and enforce justice on African Union (AU) states’ compliance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The creation of the African Court is an essential step towards the establishment of a coherent and effective system of human rights protection on the African continent. Some states were more concerned with wielding the principle of national sovereignty to hide violations of human rights especially children’s rights, committed in their country, than building a supra-national system of protection of human rights. This provoked the creation of the African court. An Agreement was reached in June 1998 to create an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights to complement and reinforce the remit of the African Commission. This Court was formally established by a Protocol to the Charter adopted in 199889.The Protocol entered into force in 2004, and the Court finally came into being in 2006 when the first set of judges were appointed.

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights enforces the right of the child in accordance to the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It ensures that African states should protect the rights of children as per their national laws and the African Charter. A good example is that, state parties to the Charter should take necessary measures to protect the health of their people, including children with medical attention when they are sick90. If such attention is not provided by the state, the child’s case can be forwarded to a local or regional court, a human rights office for remedies to be provided. Cases of violation of children’s rights can only be forwarded to the African court if he or she sought for local remedies which were not provided by the state. Also, if the state violated the child’s rights, it can be forwarded to the African court.

2.2.2 The African Court of Justice and Human Rights

The Court has jurisdiction over all cases and disputes submitted to it concerning the interpretation and application of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, (hereafter referred to as the African Charter), the Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the States concerned.91

This is a court developed from the merging of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the African Court of Justice (from the AU Constitutive Act). Former President Obasanjo made a suggestion to merge the two courts and it was accepted. In July 2004 the AU Assembly agreed to merge the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights with the African Court of Justice. A Protocol establishing a merged court called the African Court of Justice and Human Rights was finally adopted by the AU Assembly at the 11th AU Summit for June-July 200892.

This new agreement (the merger agreement) replaced the earlier Protocols establishing the two separate courts, and made it clear that the merged Court is the principal judicial organ of the AU.93 The merger agreement was open for signature and ratification by member states of the AU and went into force 30 days after 15 states deposited their instruments of ratification. In November 2008, Guinea became the first state to sign the merger agreement94. The merged Court has two sections: a general section for disputes over matters such as the powers of the AU and breaches of states’ treaty obligations, and a human rights section which hears cases against states for violations of human rights. The general section for disputes over matters has the competence to hear all cases brought before it, except for human rights cases. Only the human rights section may hear cases concerning human and people’s rights. Therefore, this human rights section also hears cases on the violation of children’s rights. The advantages of the merger include:

- Human rights cases in Africa which are easily heard, especially those concerning the violation of children’s rights.
- Remedies are easily provided to people by the court, especially to children suffering from Human rights violation cases.
- The merged courts can easily impose sanctions on member states that have failed to protect human rights and also failed to comply with any judgment of the court.
- Human rights may achieve heightened status within the AU now that they form an important focus for the AU’s principal judicial organ.
- It avoids the problem of the (partially) duplicate human rights jurisdiction of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the African Court of Justice.
- It is cost efficient maintaining one court instead of two and this will save millions of dollars each year for the cash-strapped AU.
- It makes it more likely that human rights will permeate all of the jurisprudence of the Court.
- AU member states are more likely to submit to judicial oversight of their human rights performance because they will want access to the Court’s general dispute resolution services, and it is not possible to sign up to the Court while opting out of its human rights jurisdiction.

Regarding children’s rights, the key task of the human rights section of the merged Court is to hear cases brought against African states for failure to enforce or respect their human rights. It is able to issue binding judgments in such cases and, where violations are found, may award compensation and other remedies to victims. The functions of the court are; to collect documents and undertake research on human rights issues in Africa; lay down rules in solving human rights problems; ensure human rights protection and to interpret the African Charter. Cases of children’s rights violations can only be forwarded to the merged courts under the following conditions:

- The child’s state should be a member state of the AU;
- The state must be a member of the merger agreement of the two courts;
- The state can be a member of the African Commission and the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (established under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child).
- The child’s guardians must have sought for local remedies on child rights violation which was not provided by the state95. It should be noted that this conditions also applies to an individual forwarding his or her case to the African court of justice and human rights.

2.2.3 The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice.

2.2.3.1 Background

The Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS Court) is an increasingly active and bold adjudicator of human rights. Since acquiring jurisdiction over human rights complaints in 2005, the ECOWAS Court has issued numerous decisions condemning human rights violations by the member states of the Economic Community of West African States. The ECOWAS Court also has broad access and standing rules that permit individuals and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to bypass national courts and file suits directly with the Court.

The ECOWAS court originated in the 1990s. As governments of West African states prepared to launch the Community, national interior ministers submitted to the member states, a proposal to create a court. The ministers wanted a court to resolve disputes relating to key ECOWAS instruments and programs, including the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Residence and Establishment, the Trade Liberalization Scheme, the Agricultural Cooperation Programme, and the Protocol on Community Enterprises96. The renewed governmental support for a court in the early1990s reflected a growing sense that deeper regional integration required a judicial body to resolve disputes and interpret legal rules. A 1991 Community protocol (1991 Protocol) adopted by the ECOWAS Heads of State and government created an international court to carry out these tasks which was the ECOWAS Court. By then, Human rights enforcement was not in their agenda. The recognition of the ECOWAS Court came as a result of the Liberian civil war in 2003. Due to the high rate of crimes against humanity and massive death rate, this pushed Anglophone member states of ECOWAS to establish the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG)97. This began as a monitoring and mediation effort as part of the Protocol on Mutual Assistance and Defense which became a full-fledged military intervention.

This intervention was credited with preventing the spread of violence and restoring a semblance of stability in Liberia. However the intervention also generated credible and serious allegations of human rights abuses by ECOMOG forces98.Subsequent military missions to quell civil wars and armed conflicts in Sierra Leone in 1997, Guinea Bissau in 1999, and Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia in 2003 increased the political salience of security and humanitarian activities in ECOWAS and led to the adoption in 1999 of a Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace-Keeping and Security (1999 Conflict Prevention Protocol) that underscored the importance of protecting human rights and put regional intervention on a firmer legal footing99.

These expansions of the Community’s powers contributed to a growing mobilization around human rights in West Africa, which opened the door for the transformation of the ECOWAS Court into an international human rights court. Bodies such as NGOs in West Africa also contributed to the expansion of the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS court. In 2001, they formed the West African Human Rights Forum, an umbrella organization that gained accreditation from ECOWAS and attempted to influence Community policymaking. This influenced the creation of human rights groups which contributed to proposals to expand the court’s jurisdiction in 2004. On January 19, 2005, the member states adopted the 2005 Supplementary Protocol of the court by consensus and with immediate provisional effect. The Protocol markedly expanded the ECOWAS Court’s authority, most notably by giving the Court a capacious human rights mandate. Therefore, the court finally had jurisdiction to hear and determine cases of violation of human rights that occur in any member state100.

2.2.3.2 The functioning of the court in protecting children’s rights

Concerning the protection of children’s rights, this court ensures that the human rights of children are enforced through its usage of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as its guidelines and other UN Conventions ratified in its member states101. These conventions are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture. This exposes the fact that the ECOWAS Court has no prescribed or particular instrument it uses to enforce human rights. It only ensures that the instruments are ratified by its member states before it is used for justice. Also, there is no requirement for children or their guardians to first exhaust domestic remedies before bringing their cases to the ECOWAS Court seeking for human rights enforcement.

In other regional and UN human rights petition systems, individuals must first seek relief in national courts, administrative agencies, or other domestic venues before taking their cases to the international level. This is only done when local remedies are provided at the domestic level. This system helps because it prevents international tribunals from being over burdened by a flood of human rights cases. Also, some states have justice systems which are corrupt when enforcing human rights. The ECOWAS Court has helped victims not to go through such corrupt systems. It has waived the principle of seeking local remedies. It allows human rights cases to be heard without exhaustion of domestic remedies. This is an advantage for children, for their cases can easily be heard and solutions provided.

When a human rights or child rights violation case has to be filed at the ECOWAS court, there are various steps it takes which are the general steps or procedure:

- The first thing is that the child has to be represented by a lawyer or an agent.
- The official languages of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice are English, French and Portuguese. A case against a member state has to be filed in one of the official languages of the court.
- The application to the court needs to include the name and address of the applicant, the defendant’s name which will be the state due to the fact that it is a human rights violation case, a clear description of the alleged violation of the child’s rights and violated provisions of the African Charter. Also, the order the applicant wants the court to make and evidence in support of his application has to be presented. An application to the court has to be in writing and signed by the agent or lawyer of the child, with five certified copies for the court and one copy for each party to the case. The aforementioned steps also apply to any individual102.

The court has heard cases involving education for children. A good example is the case of SERAP (Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project) v The Federal Republic of Nigeria, ECW/CCJ/APP/0808, of October 27, 2009.103 According to the facts of the case, SERAP, a human rights nongovernmental organization sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria and UBEC (Universal Basic Education Commission) for violation of the right to quality education for children, the right to dignity, the right of their people to their wealth and natural resources and to economic and social development guaranteed by articles 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. SERAP also stated that UBEC was involved in massive corruption and mismanagement of funds for basic education.

The right to education of children is recognized by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights104 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as a legally enforceable human right ratified by Nigeria. With regards to children, the court finally ruled that education is a legal and human right, and therefore, every Nigerian child is entitled to free and compulsory education. An order was given to the state of Nigeria and UBEC to make adequate provisions for the compulsory and free education of all children. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) provided a report stating the theft of 3.5 billion naira from the UBEC fund for basic education. 3.4 billion was recovered and it was money meant for quality education and access to education of every Nigerian child under the court’s ruling. The ECOWAS court has consistently demonstrated courage and industry in the discharge of its vital role in putting an end to child rights violation and impunity of perpetrators.

However, apart from the recovery of part of the funds for basic education of children, we maintain that the ECOWAS court would have identified and penalized the culprits involved. This is because such people can still carry out the same act by using the state as an alter ego, thereby violating children’s rights to free and quality education.

2.3 The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

This is a quasi judicial body tasked with promoting and protecting human rights and collective rights throughout the African continent as well as interpreting the African Charter on Human and peoples’ Rights and considering individual complaints of violations of the Charter. The African Commission came into existence with the coming into force, on October 21 1986, of the African Charter (adopted by the OAU, now the AU on 27 June 1981).105

The objectives of the Commission are to promote and protect human and peoples’ rights,106 to interpret the provisions of the Charter and to perform any other tasks assigned to it by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government (AHSG).107 The promotional mandate108 includes the collection of documents, undertaking studies and research, holding of seminars, symposia and conferences, as well collaboration with national and international institutions that deal with human rights, together with the formulation of rules and principles to solve legal problems.109 State reporting is the backbone of the promotional activities of the Commission.110 Under article 62 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, states parties report on the extent of the implementation of the rights and freedoms, as well as how duties have been carried out.111 The special mechanisms to promote the work of the Commission are Special Rapporteurs (SRs) and Working Groups (WGs). Special Rapporteurs have a formal and detailed mandate adopted by the Commission as the basis for their work.112 Working Groups, on the other hand, are ad hoc113 in nature and are constituted to conduct research on emerging issues or issues related to the Commission’s work. They are more exploratory in nature, comprising Commissioners and individual experts.114

The protective mandate involves the filing of complaints on human rights violations and on-site protective measures. The protective mandate consists of individual and inter-state complaints to the Commission as well as on-site protective and fact finding missions.115 The consideration of individual complaints (communications) is one of the leading procedures applied in holding states to account for their obligations under the Charter.116 Communications are submitted in accordance with article 55 while article 56 provides the conditions that it must meet if it is to be considered by the Commission. After the case is admitted, the Commission considers the merits and may hear oral evidence and call witnesses where it deems it necessary. The decision of the Commission remains confidential until the Assembly of the Head of States and Government decides otherwise.117

Concerning cases of children’s rights violations, these are generally reported to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which is under the African Commission. It receives complaints of breaches of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. For example, the African Commission has heard a case in Sudan concerning the breach of a group of students’ rights. This is the case of Curtis Francis Doebbler v Sudan, Communication Number 236/2000 (2003).

According to the facts of this case, on 13 June 1999, a group of female students at the Nubia Association at Ahlia University held a picnic in Buri, Khartoum along the banks of the river. They were sentenced to 25 to 40 lashes for ‘public order’ offences, contrary to article 152 of the Criminal Law of 1991 in Sudan, because they were not properly dressed. Also, they were considered immoral because they talked and danced with boys. This complaint was brought to the African Commission stating that this punishment was carried out in violation of article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which prohibits inhuman or degrading treatment.

The Commission ruled the communication admissible and requested the government of Sudan to immediately amend the Criminal law of 1991 in conformity with its obligations under the African Charter; abolish the penalty of lashes; and compensate the victims.118 It is the view of this researcher that the African Commission would have also requested the government of Sudan to amend the Criminal law of 1991 in conformity with its obligations under the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter). This is because this Charter, in relation to children’s rights protection has more provisions than the African Charter. A good example is that article 1 (1) and 21 of the African Children’s Charter discourages cultural practices to be carried out on children such as lashing. Article 21 takes it further by urging states to eliminate any practice which is harmful to a child’s life. With the usage of both the African Charter and the African Children’s Charter by state parties and the African Commission, child rights protection will be enforced.

The African Committee has also appointed a Special Rapporteur on child marriages. It ensures the monitoring of child marriages carried out in various African states and reports to the African Commission.

a. The African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

The African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) was established at the 37th Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held in Lusaka, Zambia in July 2001, in conformity with Articles 32 and following of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.119 The Committee has as mandate to promote and protect the rights of the African child pursuant to the provisions of the Charter. Pursuant to its mandate under the Charter, the Committee has undertaken several actions including the holding of its statutory sessions during which it considers reports of States Parties on the implementation of the Charter, the review of communications (complaints) received and many other activities undertaken outside sessions.120

The Committee is composed of 11 experts elected by secret ballot by the AU Heads of State for a five-year term. The mandate of the ACERWC in the Charter is expansive. It is obviously premised on the State Party reporting procedure in the first instance, according to article 43121 and, to this end, it must be noted that there has been a dramatic increase in reports received and considered by the Committee in the last while 13 reports are currently awaiting consideration.122 Also, the Committee has the broad mandate as prescribed by article 42 to promote and protect the rights of the child enshrined in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) to collect and document information, to commission interdisciplinary assessments of the situation of children in Africa, to organise meetings on child rights, and to encourage national and local institutions concerned with the rights and welfare of the child, as well as giving its views on child rights and making recommendations to governments.123

The Committee is empowered to formulate and lay down rules aimed at protecting the rights of children in Africa124 and to cooperate with other African, international and regional institutions in connection with the promotion of children’s rights and welfare. It may also interpret the Charter’s provisions at the request of a State Party or an institution of the AU or “any other person or institution recognised by the AU organ State Party.”125 The Committee is enabled by the treaty to perform such other tasks as may be entrusted to it by the Assembly of the Heads of State of the AU, the Secretary General of the AU or any other organs of the AU or the UN.126

CHAPTER THREE THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS IN CAMEROON

Child protection is a prime concern in Cameroon. It is one of the country’s government’s priority actions assigned specifically to address the issue of protection and promotion of the rights of the child. Against this backdrop, Cameroon has ratified legal instruments protecting children’s rights such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993). This research therefore answers research question three and as well achieved the third specific objective. The natural law theory is also used in this chapter to demonstrate Cameroon’s commitment to international human rights law. The protection accorded to children in Cameroon is in accordance with John Locke’s notion that human beings are equal and are entitled to certain liberties.

3.1 Rights of Children Protected by National Laws in Cameroon

3.1.1 Right to education

Article 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child basically provides that the education of the child is directed to fostering the physical, intellectual, moral and cultural development of the child, as well as the development of his personality and sense of responsibility, and to instilling a sense of respect for others and for the virtues of peace, tolerance and equality of the sexes. In order to make such education accessible to all, article 28, paragraph 1 (a), of the Convention requires States to make primary education “compulsory and freely available to all”. Cameroon appears to be meeting this requirement, since its authorities are committed to promoting basic education for all. The preamble to the Constitution thus affirms that “The State shall guarantee the child’s right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory.”127

The preamble also provides that the State guarantees all citizens of either sex the enjoyment of this right to instruction. The State also ensures the child’s right to education128, without distinction of gender, political opinion, philosophy, or religious persuasion, and of social, linguistic or geographical origin129.

The fact is that nearly 250,000 children of primary school age in the South West Region of Cameroon are out of school; either because they are drop outs, never enrolled or are expected to enrol late.130 This is a reason why public primary education is declared free as per Article 47 of Public schools Decree no. 2001/041 of 19 February 2001131. This therefore means that every child whose parents do not have sufficient tuition for a child’s education is relieved from that burden.

By Decree no. 2004/320 of 8 December 2004132, the state ensures that there are various ministerial departments responsible for a child’s right to education. These are the Ministry of Basic Education (pre-school and primary), and the Ministry of Secondary Education (technical and general education).

Education is ensured and enforced for children in Cameroon in order to foster the physical, moral, intellectual and cultural development of the child. Moreover, a mass number of children can benefit from education which is the reason why public primary education is made free.133

The government also ensures that disabled children’s right to education is protected through the establishments of various institutions for them. In 1993, there were approximately 450,000 disabled children134 which pushed forth the establishment of the Rehabilitation Institute for the Blind in Buea, the Rehabilitation Centre for Deaf Children and the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons in Yaoundé135. It is realized that they do not end there. The Ministry of Social Affairs is pushing forward with the establishing of a school for disabled children in the Cardinal Paul Emile Leger National Centre for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, Yaounde. The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Secondary Education jointly signed circular letters which aim at facilitating admission for children with disabilities and granting of subventions to private institutions responsible for children with disabilities.136

3.1.2 Right to Health and health services

In Cameroon, children have the right to health and health services. Article 24 of the CRC states that the child has the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness. Article 14 (1) and (2) of the African Children’s Charter states the same role, namely, protecting a child’s right to health. It is realized that the state has made efforts in protecting a child’s right to health by ratifying other instruments. Cameroon is a party to the Declaration of Alma Ata of 1978137 and thus espouses the ideal of primary medical care. There is a draft of the Child Protection Code which provides extensively for the right to health and classifies deprivation of health as ill-treatment from which children must be protected.138 It is realized that more paediatric hospitals have to be established for care of children, especially those with the HIV/AIDS virus.

It is the view of the researcher that the government of Cameroon should also make efforts in protecting children’s health by improving the poor state of sanitation and insufficient access to drinking water. It has however been noted that the poor state of sanitation and insufficient access to drinking water, especially in rural communities, still remains a major challenge to children’s right to health. On the 9th of May 2014, the government of Cameroon launched its National and Multisectoral Programme to reduce child mortality rate in Cameroon, from 2014 to 2018. According to the programme, offering health services to children is not enough, but a multisectoral, coordinated and adequately financed action for children will promote the combat against ill health and child death.139

3.1.3 Right to a standard of living

Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates that every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Parents have the primary responsibility to secure that standard of living for the child. The State has the duty to act in such a way that they can and do assume that responsibility. The State’s responsibility may include material assistance to parents and their children. From the point of view of that provision, there have to be two main partners working together to guarantee the child an adequate standard of living: the parents and the State.

3.1.3.1 Parental responsibility

According to articles 180, 282 and 358 of the Penal Code, parents have an obligation to ensure a decent standard of living for their children. Article 180 of the Penal Code is on Alimony. This is a regular amount of money a court of law orders a person, usually a man, to pay to their partner after a divorce.140 It states that:

Anyone who has failed for more than two months to provide the full amount of the alimony he has been ordered to pay to his spouse, her ascendants or descendants shall be liable from one month to one year’s imprisonment and/or a fine of CFAF 20,000 to CFAF 400,000.

The money paid to the spouse is normally used to take care of the child and provide his or her daily needs.

Article 282 of the Penal Code is on abandonment of an incapable person. These are a set of people who cannot take care of themselves, such as children. It provides that:

Anyone who removes a person incapable of protecting himself by reason of his physical or mental state in order to abandon him shall be liable to one to three years’ imprisonment and a fine of CFAF 5,000 to CFAF 25,000.

Article 282 (3) of the Penal Code seals parental responsibility over children’s welfare when it states that:

The term of imprisonment shall be 10 to 20 years where the offender is an older relative or anyone having authority or custody de jure or de facto over the incapable person.

This law is enforced because of the attitude people have, especially women, who abandon children, mostly newly born when they are in hardship. This is common in Douala, which is found in the Littoral region of Cameroon. Abandoned new born babies and children were always found in the streets. Some die, while others grow up to be juvenile delinquents141. No matter the financial difficulties parents go through, they have to do their utmost best to ensure a good standard of living for their children. The law has provided for their right to a standard of living.

Article 358 of the Penal Code is on abandonment of the home. It provides that:

The mother or the father of a family who without legitimate reason neglects all or part of his or her moral or material obligations vis-à-vis his or her spouse, child or children by abandoning the family home or by any other means shall be liable from three months to one year’s imprisonment or a fine of CFAF 5,000 to CFAF 500,000.

It has been realized that most parents neglect and abandon their family without a legitimate reason. This tends to affect the child or children. Their right to a standard of living will be seriously affected due to the separation of their parents. Finance becomes tough for the child for each parent will not want to be responsible for his welfare due to their marital or other problems. This pushes the child to the outer world, letting him or her to be exposed to juvenile delinquency. Some of them become thieves, street beggars, prostitutes and have bad company which is not fruitful for the development of a child.142 Therefore, parents should fulfil their role to provide for a good standard of living for their children. It will hinder them being exposed to the dangers of the world. A good example can be seen from the case of Zamcho Florence Lum v Chibikom Peter and Others where by a parent left an estate to be inherited by his female child. Even though it was a problem for the girl to inherit the property because of her brother’s desire to inherit it too, it was finally decided in the Supreme Court that the female child had rights over her property.

From the aforementioned above, one can clearly see how the law binds parents to ensure a decent standard of living for their children.

3.1.3.2 State responsibility

The Government has adopted quite a wide variety of appropriate measures, which include:

- Decree No. 82/412 of 9 September 1982 on the procedure for granting State relief to indigent and needy person.
- Circular letter No. 80/I/658/MINEDUC/CTD of 18 January 1980 on admission of disabled children and children of disabled parents to public and semi-public institutions;
- Circular letter No. 90/02800/LC/MINASCOF/SG/DRS of 10 December l990 on provision of aids to needy and disabled persons;
- Act No. 67/LF/7 of 12 June 1967 instituting a family benefits code

3.1.4 Right of a child during armed conflicts

Under article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 22(2) of the African Children’s Charter, States parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law in cases of armed conflict. They agreed to take all possible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

It must be stated that Cameroon has ratified the Geneva Conventions of 12 August l949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977 and according to the rules in force, no child under 18 years of age may be recruited into the national defense forces (the army, the gendarmerie and the police). In response to these requirements, Cameroon holds various seminars for Cameroonian officers of higher echelons, one aim is to make them aware of the application of international humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict or internal disturbance. It should also be pointed out that the Red Cross and Red Crescent freely carry out their activities in Cameroon. The International Committee of the Red Cross was thus able to visit prisoners in the border conflict with Nigeria in Bakassi.143

On the subject of refugees, article 22 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that States parties will take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee will receive protection and humanitarian assistance. In this regard, Cameroon ratified the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees on 23 October l961 and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees on 19 September 1967. Pursuant to the provisions of that instrument, it is realized that Cameroon has, in cooperation with UNHCR, taken in refugees from Burundi, Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sudan and Chad144.

According to the UNHCR report (1998), the number of refugees living in Cameroon is estimated at 47,057 of which 6,007 are assisted by UNHCR, namely: 3,053 Chadians, 1,227 Rwandans, 332 Burundians, 182 (Kinshasa) Congolese, 230 (Brazzaville) Congolese, 180 Sudanese, 167 Liberians and 636 other nationalities.145

In the border conflict in the peninsula of Bakassi between Cameroon and Nigeria, the President of the Republic had, by Decision No. 001 of 17 January 1997, set up a committee to give State assistance to the displaced civilian populations in combat zones. The committee prepared a programme of immediate, short-term and medium- term action. This extends to displaced civilians from the Central African Republic (CAR).

3.1.4.1 Immediate term action

The immediate action for which the Government released CFAF 205 million was basically for food security, health (essential medicines and the prevention of epidemics), education (school fees, school supplies and uniforms), and essential goods.

3.1.4.2 Short-term action

Short-term action, estimated at CFAF 462 million, began and involved the building of huts out of temporary materials for the resettlement of 200 families, with wells and latrines, the construction of a bilingual school comprising all levels (nursery, primary and secondary), the purchase of mattresses, sheets and blankets, the construction of a dispensary, the provision of fishing supplies and seeds, the procurement of five light vessels for the use of the administrative and municipal authorities.

3.1.4.3 Medium-term action

Throughout the first phase of this programme and without minimizing the other aspects, special emphasis has been placed on education. All school costs for the children of all the administrative units making up the Bakassi area have thus been assumed by the State for the 1996/1997, 1997/1998 and 1998/1999 school years.

From August 2014 to date, The UNHCR , in cooperation with the government of Cameroon is helping refugees from the Central African Republic (here referred to as C.A.R) crisis and the Boko Haram attack in Northern Nigeria. Cameroon hosted more than 240,000 people of concern to UNHCR, mostly made up of women and children.

The country hosts the largest number of C.A.R refugees. They are spread over 314 sites, across the East and Adamawa regions.

Due to the crisis in Nigeria, Cameroon witnessed an influx of Nigerian refugees since May 2013. The government provides protection and asylum and has allocated land for seven refugee sites in East and Adamawa regions. Refugee children are guided to local schools and health centres for refugees with UNHCR support.146

3.1.5 Right of a Child Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Torture is an act causing great physical and mental pain to a human being.147 It is a strategic means of limiting, controlling, and repressing basic human rights of individuals and communities that is often covert and denied by authorities.148

It is realized that children suffer from deliberate pain inflicted on them to achieve a purpose. The purpose may be to forcefully get information from the child or subdue him to an activity which is not his desire.

Article 37 (a) of the CRC requires States parties to ensure that no child is subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Cameroon has endorsed that principle by ratifying, in Decree No. 97/079 of 25 April 1997, the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 10 December 1984. In application of the Convention, Law No. 97/009 of 10 January 1997 amends and supplements certain provisions of the Penal Code. Pursuant to that Act, article 132 bis, entitled “Torture”, has been inserted between articles 132 and 133 of the Code. It states that:

Anyone who, by torture, involuntarily causes the death of another person shall be liable to life imprisonment; When the torture permanently deprives the victim of the use of all or part of a limb, an organ or a sense, the penalty shall be 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment; When the torture causes the victim’s illness or incapacity for work for more than 30 days, the penalty shall be 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of CFAF 100,000 to CFAF 1 million; When the torture causes the victim to be ill or unfit for work for 30 days or less or to suffer pain or mental or psychological distress, the penalty shall be two to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of CFAF 50,000 to CFAF 200,000 francs;

What is more, torture is seen to hinder child development which makes it a high priority to address the issue149

3.1.6 Right of a child against child labour

According to article 32 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the child has the right to be protected from performing any work that is likely to be harmful to his health, education or development; the State provides for minimum age for admission to employment and regulates conditions of employment.

3.1.6.1 The legal framework

In Cameroon, it is seen that conventions have been ratified and laws adopted to ensure compliance with the above-mentioned article 32. At the international level, Cameroon has ratified ILO human rights conventions such as ILO Convention No. 138 on the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (1973), which it ratified on 14 April 1998.

Domestic legislation on child labour consists of:

- Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992 containing the Labour Code;
- Decree No. 68/DF/253 of 10 July 1968 on general conditions for the employment of domestic and household workers;
- Decree No. 69/DF/287 of 30 July 1969 on apprenticeship contracts, particularly insofar as it requires a minimum age of 14 years for admission to apprenticeship and prohibits a female apprentice from being lodged with an unmarried master;
- Order No. 16/MTLS/DEGRE of 27 May 1969 on female labour, with an annex listing work prohibited for women and children;
- Order No. 17/MTLS/DEGRE of 27 May l969 on child labour.

With regard to the minimum age for admission to employment, the above-mentioned legal framework sets that age at 14 years for work that does not involve any particular risks (arts. 2 of ILO Convention No. 138 and 86 of the Labour Code) and at least 18 years for dangerous, difficult or unhealthy work likely to undermine the health or morals of the child.

3.1.6.2 Work prohibited for children

- Work that is beyond a child’s strength, such as the transport and handling of goods over a certain weight calculated in relation to the sex and age of the child and the transportation of goods by truck or similar vehicle;
- Dangerous or unhealthy work, such as work underground in mines or in quarries or foundries and the manufacture, handling or manipulation of explosives;
- Work harmful to the morals of children, such as the fabrication and sale of written or printed products (posters, drawings, sculptures) which may have an adverse influence on the moral and psychological development of children, even if such work is not prohibited by Criminal law.

In determining the conditions for children’s work, Cameroonian laws and regulations prescribe affirmative action measures, including:

- The ban on night work for women and children as per article 81 of the Labor Code. The maximum duration of daytime work cannot exceed eight hours, with a compulsory break of at least one hour for children150
- Compulsory rest time of at least 12 consecutive hours151 ;
- Compulsory granting of leave on the basis of two and a half days per month instead of one and a half days for adults.

The competent labour inspector monitors the implementation of these legislative and regulatory measures.152 To facilitate the inspector’s monitoring of child labour, any employer who recruits a child, even for a trial period or without an apprenticeship contract, must so inform the labour inspector in the ensuing days.

A duly completed form must accompany the medical certificate of the child concerned.

Criminal penalties are provided for in articles 167, 168 and 190 of the Labour Code against anyone who contravenes the provisions of articles 82, 86 and 90 of that Code concerning, inter alia, children’s working conditions.

It should also be pointed out that Cameroon has established the principle of equal pay, without distinction as to age, for equal work. To sum up, any work performed by children in conditions that fall short of those provided for in the legal framework described above qualifies as economic exploitation.

3.1.7 Right of a child against the use of narcotic drugs

According to article 33 of the Convention, “States parties shall take all … measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances … and to prevent the use of children in the illicit … trafficking of such substances.” Well before the Convention, Cameroon had joined the international community in ratifying other international legal instruments on narcotic drugs (1961), psychotropic substances (1971) and drug trafficking (1988).

At the domestic level, article 11 of the Penal Code provides that the criminal law of the Republic applies to narcotic drug trafficking even if carried on outside the national territory. Decree No. 92/PM of 24 November 1992 sets up the National Committee to Combat Drug Abuse. This is an advisory body to the Ministry of Health whose task is the coordination and consideration of all problems of illicit drug use and drug abuse. Recently, Law No. 97/019 of 7 August 1997 was promulgated on the control of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors and on extradition and judicial assistance in connection with trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors. It breaks new ground in that it contains provisions specific to children. Its Article 104 thus makes anyone who knowingly a supply a minor with toxic chemical inhalants is liable from one to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of between CFAF 25,000 and CFAF 500,000. Pursuant to article 105, the penalties provided for in articles 91 to 99 are doubled when a minor takes part in the offences concerned (cultivation, production, fabrication, international trafficking, money laundering). The penalties are also doubled if the offence has been committed in a penitentiary, in a military establishment, a teaching or educational establishment, a hospital or healthcare establishment, a social services centre or any other place where pupils or students engage in educational, sports or social activities or in the immediate vicinity of such establishments and such places.

Much work is done by NGOs and other associations, which have formed a network, under the impetus of the National Committee to Combat Drug Abuse and the International Institute for Prevention of Drug Abuse based in Paris. During the International Day celebrated on 26 June 1997, a radio and television message on the theme “Let’s mobilize our communities to fight drugs” was broadcast widely on national stations.

3.1.8 Right of a child who belongs to a minority or indigenous group

Article 30 of the Convention provides that, in States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, those States must guarantee to the child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to practice his or her own religion and to use his or her own language. The preamble to the Constitution of Cameroon similarly affirms that “The State shall ensure the protection of minorities and shall preserve the rights of indigenous populations …”

Different types of action have been taken as part of the programme for the socioeconomic integration of indigenous and marginal populations to ensure:

- Their legal protection by drawing up or reconstituting official civil register certificates and by facilitating their access to education, to the labour market, to primary mother-and-child health care and to landed property;
- The preservation of their cultural identity and their natural environment, particularly by the promotion of cultural values and the acquisition of community forests;
- Their socio-economic reintegration, through community networks within the spheres of competence of the public administration.

3.2 Legal Framework for the Protection of Children

Cameroon has protocols, charters, ratified international conventions that protect children’s rights. These legal instruments were mentioned above. She also has national laws and regulations that govern children’s rights by way of protection. Such national legislations include:

- Law No. 2004/16 of 22 July 2004, on the establishment, organization and functioning of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, to make that body independent, more operational and efficient;
- Law No. 92/04 of 14 April 1992 on school orientation, which sets the compulsory school-going age at 14 years;
- Law No. 67-LF-1 of 12 June 1967 on the penal code and all punishments for violations against children;
- Law No. 2005/007 of 27 July 2005 on the criminal procedure code, which took effect on 1 January 2007;
- Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 2005 on combating slavery and child trafficking in Cameroon;
- Tourism act 98/006 of 14 April 1998, setting out the general provisions for practicing this activity.

3.3 Implementation of Measures Protecting Children’s Rights

Cameroon has methodically pursued efforts to ensure an enabling environment for the development of the child and his rights, through legislative and regulatory measures.

3.3.1 Legislative and Regulatory Measures

Cameroon adopted legislative and regulatory measures on the rights of the child and embarked on procedures. The measures are as follows:

- Adoption of Law No. 06 of 18 January 1996 on the revision of the preamble of the 2 June 1972 Constitution, which guarantees the freedom and security of every individual, with special focus on the protection of children and the youth;
- Adoption of Law No. 67-LF-1 of 12 June 1967 on the institution of the Penal Code, which has provisions that can be invoked to punish child labour cases. These are sections 292 on forced labour; 293 on slavery; 294 on proxenitism; 342 on slavery and pledging; 343 on prostitution; 344 on corrupting the youth; 345 on moral danger; 349 on blackmail or exploitation of weakness; 352 and 353 on child abduction; 355 on representation of minors, 358 on abandonment of household;
-Adoption of Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992 which sets the minimum age of admission to employment at 14 and bans the employment of children in dangerous work or work beyond their strength;
-Adoption of Law No. 97/12 of 10 January 1997 setting entry, stay and exit conditions for foreign nationals in Cameroon, and its implementing decree 200/286 of 12 October 2000, which requires prior parental authorization for children to be issued a travel document;
-Adoption of Law No. 2005/015 of 29 December 2005 on combating slavery and child trafficking
-Adoption of Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on guidelines for education in Cameroon, where article 7 stipulates: “the State shall guarantee the child’s right to education, without distinction of gender, political opinion, philosophy, or religious persuasion, and of social, linguistic or geographical origin”;
-Adoption of child trafficking and antislavery Law No. 2005/015 of 29/12/2005
-Decree 2004/320 of 8 December 2004 on institution by Government of several ministerial departments responsible for the rights of the child. These include the Ministry of Social Affairs (promotion of rights and social protection of the child); the Ministry of Basic Education (pre-school and primary); Ministry of Secondary Education (technical and general education); Ministry of Public Health (maternal and child health); Ministry of Women’s promotion and Family Affairs (education on responsible parenthood and family welfare); Ministry of Youth (promotion of leisure and extra-curricular activities)153.

CHAPTER FOUR CHILD LABOUR IN CAMEROON

This chapter seeks to discuss child labour in Cameroon as it is a very vital aspect of children’s rights. This is because child labour violates almost all the rights of the child, especially the right to education. It is against this background that the researcher deemed it necessary to discuss the situation of child labour in Cameroon so as to ascertain its root causes, its forms and how it is combated in Cameroon. The chapter therefore answers the fourth research question and addresses the fourth specific objective. It is underpinned by the theory of social justice theory in that children have the right to liberty and education. Child labour in Cameroon is a violation of these rights which according to John Rawls should be protected.

4.1 Background of Child Labour in Cameroon

European traders have been trading with coastal Africans before 1884, which resulted to the Transatlantic slave trade, affecting millions of African children and adults.154 Goody155 asserts that apart from farming, children were also involved in learning skills and traditional specialist occupations such as blacksmithing, drum-making, divining, weaving, dyeing, mining, wood carving through kin fosterage and apprenticeships. These part-time occupations were sometimes learnt outside and sometimes within children’s immediate families. In this apprenticeship framework, ‘sons live as dependent members of the household; they do whatever work is needed, whether or not it is related to commodity production … gradually they participate more directly in production and eventually are full-time workers in the household industry’.156 He further notes that in this framework, it was compulsory for the ‘master’ to provide for the apprentice’s moral and social welfare while the latter respected and obeyed the former without reserve.

The colonial period was characterized by pawning157. Pawning is a system whereby children or pawns live with creditors as collateral security when their parents contract loans. The work that pawns perform for creditors is considered as interest on the contracted loans. Upon marriage to a member of the creditor’s household, the loan is cancelled. However, pawns were sold as slaves in situations of famine, hardship, drought, political instability, and warfare.158 Sometimes, a family’s inability to pay a witchdoctor or diviner for services rendered may result in pawning. In Central Africa the charging of interests on loans was a fairly recent phenomenon159 marked by the presence of colonial parties from its coasts to the hinterlands. Girls were sometimes preferred as pawns by creditors because they performed multiple functions - human reproduction, farm workers, porters, and wives.160

The period 1884-1945 witnessed the emergence of large scale internal migration amongst native peoples from the hinterlands to coastal areas and the start of urbanization processes in these colonies.161 Child labour was thus the means to realize the colonial economies and policies put in place. Between 1884 and 1945, children’s labour was forcefully recruited in Cameroon and for the development of plantations and public works schemes. Children and adults were involved in agriculture, herding, manufacturing, warfare and hunting amongst other activities. Some children were slaves and pawns.162 Since children were part of the African indigenous work force, Europeans built capitalist economic structures in Cameroon partly on this indigenous foundation. Children’s labour was cheap, sometimes free, and was important for the production and movement of crops to coastal towns and villages for export.163

There was a low population density in most chiefdoms on the eve of colonization. For instance, in 1912, Cameroon’s population was only 2.6 million persons164 and there was scarcity of adult labour. In consequence, colonialists transformed children from domestic or family workers into child labourers. Thus German planters and administrators and French concessionary companies forcefully recruited Cameroonians to work in coastal German plantations, timber trade and rubber collection.165 The Treaty signed on the 23 August 1891 between Dr. Eugen Zintgraff representing the German colonial government and Galega I, the chief of Bali Nyonga in Kamerun which in part called on Galega I to recruit able and strong natives to work in German coastal plantations also encouraged child labour. This is because, Forced labour policy decimated villages and forced children to lose parents through deaths and desertion of villages to hide in the forests. Some children had to work as domestic servants for European administrators.

Even though missionaries criticized child labour, they also engaged in it. Missionary organizations in Kamerun and Gabon allowed their pupils and students to work in farms and gardens without pay by growing crops for staff and student consumption. Surpluses were sold in towns. Some male students and pupils made furniture. Female ones cleaned staff houses and prepared staff food and performed needlework. Money gained from these activities was used to promote other missionary activities.166

Forced labour and pawning was abolished, which influenced the development of colonial labour markets. The colonial period from 1945-1960 saw the abolition of forced labour and pawning which influenced the development of colonial labour markets.167

4.2 Causes of Child Labour

In order to combat child labour we must understand the forces that gave rise to it. These forces are family influence, poverty and economic considerations.

4.2.1 The family context

Most children start work by helping their families before they go out to work for others. Cultural values and expectations view this as a natural and “right” way to introduce a child to the roles and responsibilities linked to being a member of a family and to growing up.168 This occurs throughout the world in millions of agricultural families. If the family owns land or works on the land of others, the child will start by spending the day in the fields alongside its parent, doing very easy jobs at first and then progressively more demanding ones. Agriculture initiates children into work earlier than other kinds of economic activities, and it often does so within the protective environment of their family.169 The pattern of children helping parents is common in many societies. Children assist their parents in small shops and commercial activities, or in small home-based businesses. In societies in which rural home work predominates (families making things in their homes for others, usually piecework), children participate as part of the household during the hours they are not at school. Normally, as younger children grow up and start doing some of the household work, the older children can be sent out to earn wages. Sometimes, this means migrating to urban centres to work, even at a young age, and sending remittances (earned money) back to the family170.

Some-times the family is in debt. Indeed, indebtedness seems to be a significant factor in contributing to family vulnerability, and the child may be sent out to work in order to pay the debt off (this is one cause of debt bondage, a form of forced labour). Aderinto171 asserts that child labour and street trading are linked to child rearing norms and the attributes of parents where, for the purpose of socialization, children are required to carry out assigned domestic chores and economic activities.

4.2.2 Poverty

Poverty is universally regarded as the root cause for172 forced child labour173 mainly in developing countries, and particularly in Africa where it is considered to be ‘a major and ubiquitous causal factor’ behind child labour.174 Poverty restricts economic opportunities so seriously that families have no other option than to exploit all possibilities to increase their insignificant incomes.175 The poorest and most vulnerable people are likely to be subjected to forced labour or bondages, which they or even their future generations cannot afford to repay despite hard work; this results in a cycle of poverty and misery throughout generations. The eradication of overall poverty would, therefore, be one of the solutions for overcoming forced labour.176 Kielland notes that as a global trend, poorer countries tend to have higher rates of child labour because parents cannot afford the cost of schooling, and sometimes the schools are simply not there.177

Economists as well as sociologists have attributed child labour to poverty. Tuttle178 argues that children from poor families must work in order to contribute to the family’s livelihood, buying the necessities for survival, especially food, clothing and housing. Basu179 posits that poor families on their low wages, unable to provide for the family have to send their children to work.

Although child labour is largely attributed to poverty, which in turn forces children out of school, the truth of this claim is contestable. In Cameroon, primary school education is free but child labour continues to thrive. One would expect levels of child labour cases to drop significantly with the introduction of free primary school education but this is not the case. Thus, although poverty plays an important role in accounting for child labour, it does not do so exclusively and exhaustively.

It is the researcher’s view that parents who are constrained financially to send their children to school often subject them to forced labour either internally or externally. Simon Mathias180 asserts that parents are caught up in a dilemma between sending their children to school and sending them to work for their survival. Eventually, children are allowed to work in order to contribute to the immediate household provisions such as food, clothing and shelter. This means the right to education becomes secondary to the right to survival.

It goes without saying that child labour is more alarming in African than in the West. To illustrate, according to the ILO’s report on trafficking, Africa has been reported as having the highest percentage of child workers in the world. The statistics reveal that 80 million or 41% of African children work.181 These children are usually between the ages of five and fourteen and the largest percentage of these child workers are the female children who are usually engaged as domestic workers. This is so because in Africa, there has been the age long traditional practice of “placement”.182 Placement is a term used for when a child is being placed or sent to a home to perform light housework in exchange for a monthly fee, educational or training opportunities. The children sent out to render these domestic services are usually from very poor families in urban areas and they are usually sent to families in the rural centres.

4.2.3 Economic considerations

In a capitalist economy, exploitation of the abundant cheap labour available in developing nations increases profits for business owners.183 Thus, child labour is prevalent because children provide cheap labour which is on high demand.

Children specifically become helpless victims of big businesses184. Jobs which children do are seasonal while adults work almost on a permanent basis. Job security is hugely compromised by child labour illegality. This illegality augments employers’ power to hire and fire as labour laws do not protect working children. Forster185 echoes the same view that Children are even worse off and cheaper because they are so easily controlled and they lack the platform to negotiate for better pay. The fact that child workers will not usually rally to form unions or stage a strike is the reason that child labour persists while employers conveniently exploit this condition by maintaining the status quo.

4.3 The Legal Framework to Combat Forced Labour in Cameroon

All forms of child labour are defined in the ILO Convention No. 182 which is supplemented by the ILO Recommendation No. 190.186 Cameroon ratified the ILO Convention 138 on forced labour in 2002.187 The ILO Convention No. 138 sets the age at which children may be legally employed to prevent child labour, and this Convention is supplemented by the ILO Minimum Age Recommendation No. 146.188 The ILO Forced Labour Convention No. 29 aims at the suppression of the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms within the shortest possible period. The ILO Convention No. 105 aims at suppressing and not making use of any form of forced or compulsory labour. Moreover, these ILO standards are covered and reinforced by the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up to provide the framework for action to combat child labour.189

With regards to the prohibition of child labour in Cameroon, it is necessary to mention the Labour Code that sets the minimum age for work at 14.190 Generally, it prohibits forced labor191. According to the Labour Code, forced labour refers to:

any labor or service demanded of an individual under threat of penalty, being a labour or service which the individual has not freely offered to perform.”192

The Minister of Labour may make exemptions to the minimum age for apprentices after taking into consideration the local conditions and the types of work children may perform.193 The minimum age for hazardous work of children is at 18.194 It prohibits children from working underground, in restaurants, hotels, or bars, or in any job that exceeds their physical capacity or is longer than 8 hours a day in the industrial sector.195

It is important to note that the law does not protect children working in non-contractual and non-industrial undertakings, such as agriculture, domestic service, and street vending, even though many children are known to work in these sectors.196 In addition, the Government lacks a mechanism for protecting children engaged in child labour in unregistered enterprises.

Another legislative effort made by the government of Cameroon to combat child labour is compulsory primary education.197 Children are required to attend school until the age of 12.198 The defect of this legislation is that it makes children aged 12 to 14 particularly vulnerable to the worst forms of child labour, as they are not required to be in school and are sometimes below the minimum age for work. Also, Presidential Decree No. 2001/041 establishes the right to a free education. It can be submitted that these laws indirectly prohibit forced labour taking into consideration the fact that education prevents forced labour. The justification for this is that most of the children who are subjected to forced labour are those who do not go to school.

The Constitution199 prohibits slavery and servitude .The Penal Code prohibits forced labour, slavery and pawning,200 prostitution of children,201 child abuse,202 the corruption of youth, and kidnapping. The Penal Code Prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children.203 The law on cyber security and cybercrime in Cameroon prohibits electronic forms of child pornography204 ; the Penal Code prohibits obscene publications.205

The law also prohibits the recruitment of children in the military. Military service is not compulsory, and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment is 18.206 Children younger than 18 can participate in military service with parental consent.207 The Government ratified the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2012.208

Child trafficking which is one of the forms of child labour is also prohibited in Cameroon. The law Project Relating to the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery criminalizes human trafficking, slavery, and debt bondage.209 This law extends culpability to accomplices and corporate entities and provides prison terms and fines for violators. The 2011 Law Project Relating to the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and it prescribes a penalty of 10 to 20 years' imprisonment210, penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. Section 5 provides:

Whoever engages in trafficking in persons and slavery shall be punished with imprisonment for from 15 (fifteen) to 20 (twenty) years and with fine of from 100 000 (one hundred thousand) to 10 000 000 (ten million) CFA francs where: the offence is committed against a minor of 15 years; the perpetrator is a legitimate, natural or adopted ascendant of the victim; the offender has authority over the victim or is expected to participate by virtue of his duties in the fight against slavery or peace keeping; the offence is committed by an organized gang or an association.211

Section 5 prescribes penalties ranging from 15 to 20 years' imprisonment when the trafficking victim is 15 years of age or younger, when violent pretexts are used to coerce the victim, or if the victim sustained serious injuries as a result of trafficking. In cases of debt bondage, penalties are doubled when the perpetrator is the guardian of the victim.212

The lacuna in the laws protecting child labour in Cameroon is that the government has not criminalized the use of children for illicit activities, which is a documented worst form of child labour in Cameroon.213

4.4 Implementation of the Laws on Forced Labour

4.4.1 Ministry of Labour and Social Security

The main role of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (hereafter referred to as MOLSS) in Combating child labour is leadership to enforce child labour laws, in collaboration with other government bodies, like the Ministries of Social Affairs, Justice, Women’s Empowerment and the Family, and Employment.214

Child labour complaints may be initiated by the victim, a third party, or officials from the MOLSS, and may be reported to a local MOLSS representative or law enforcement officer. Once a complaint is filed, an investigation is conducted by the MOLSS.215 Minor offenses are usually settled at the ministerial level; serious offenses are handled by the prosecutor’s office. Labour inspectors conduct routine and targeted inspections and send their reports on labour rules violations to the regional officer. Labour violations are later addressed at the administrative level or are sent to the prosecutor’s office for judicial action.216

The problem with the MOLSS in implementing the laws on child labour stems from the fact that there are no official comprehensive statistics on the number of child labor violations, of penalties or citations issued, or of children removed and assisted as a result of the inspections. Also, The ILO Committee of Experts has expressed concern that inspectors are not sufficiently familiar with the labor laws.217

4.4.2 National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms

There is no universally agreed definition for a ‘national human rights institution’ (hereafter referred to as NHRC).218 The UN describes these institutions as ‘bodies whose functions are specifically defined in terms of the promotion and protection of human rights’.219 These are multi-member institutions with a role to protect and promote human rights. They are concerned primarily with the promotion and protection of persons against all forms of discrimination and with the protection of civil and political rights.220 However, a few of these institutions have been empowered to protect socio-economic rights. These commissions are also engaged in the training and education of people on human rights issues.

The word “commission” has been defined as “a government agency having administrative, legislative or judicial powers”.221 Therefore, a court or soft forum engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights falls under this category.

The Paris Principles recommend that national commissions should inter alia advise the government, parliament or any competent body on legislative and administrative provisions and their conformity to international standards, on any situation of violation of human rights which it decides to take up. They should prepare reports on the national human rights situation, and draw the attention of the government on situations of violations while making recommendations as to how to resolve the situation.222

The role of national human rights commission in protecting human rights is provided in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It states:

State parties to the present Charter shall have the duty to guarantee the independence of the Courts and shall allow the establishment and improvement of appropriate national institutions entrusted with the promotion and protection of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the present Charter.223

NHRCs in the African context have been established as a genuine attempt to improve the human rights situation; but also in some cases, simply to give the impression that states are committed to respecting the rights of their citizens without actually protecting those rights. The National Commission on Human rights and Freedoms in Cameroon (hereafter referred to as NHRC) was created by presidential decree in 1990 to defend and promote human rights and freedoms in Cameroon.224 It was one of the first NHRC to be established in Africa as part of a programme towards democracy. The Commission in Cameroon soon after its establishment toured the country and making its existence and mandate known to the public.225 The Commission has done a lot in protecting children’s rights through its reporting system. For instance in June 2006, the government, working in collaboration with NGOs and the International Labour Organisation, launched several activities commemorating the World Day Against Child Labour. In September 2006, the Ministry of Social Affairs launched a campaign on 18 radio stations throughout the country to educate the public about the dangers of child exploitation.226

Also, the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) carried out human rights promotion activities in collaboration with civil society organizations within the framework of the celebration of the 19th edition of the Day of the African Child celebrated on 9 June 2009 under the theme: ‘An Africa worthy of Children: A Call for urgent action for their survival’.227 The significance of this celebration is evident in that, it promotes the rights of the child by raising awareness on the plight of children and measures aimed at redressing the problems.

In the same year, the government began recruiting 60 social workers which it intended to train by 2008 to work in its trafficking victim centres.228

During the celebrations to mark the International Day of the African Child, major activities comprised the preparation of 180 junior parliamentarians for the 11th session of Children’s Parliament.229 The junior Parliamentarians were trained to understand some provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the existence of the World Prize on the Rights of the Child (WPRC), the role of the junior Parliamentarian, organizations such as UNICEF, and the efforts made by some eminent personalities to fight for the rights of the child.230

Also, during this celebration, under the theme “Africa Fit for Children: Call for Accelerated Action for the Survival of the Cameroon Child”, some of the scourges such as lack of drinking water, health problems (especially malaria and HIV/AIDS),lack of education, malnutrition, child labour and sexual abuse especially of the girl child that threaten the African child were discussed.231

It is important to note that besides government’s effort to combat child trafficking, Non- Governmental efforts have also been brought to the limelight. For instance, The West Africa Cocoa/Agriculture Project (WACAP), an ILO’s International Program (3- year project) on the Elimination of Child Labor designed to eliminate child labor in the cocoa and agriculture sector in West Africa was launched in 2003.232 It had as objective, the removal of some 10,000 children from exploitation on cocoa and other farms in West Africa and providing for their education. Representatives from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, the European Union, and the United States set up the project.233 It aimed to withdraw 1,000 children from the cocoa sector, to prevent 500 children from entering the sector, and to provide livelihood assistance to 500 adult family members.234 This project strongly condemned the practice of child labour in cocoa plantations in cameroon. There is also the Minors Brigade in Cameroon which investigates the use of children in hazardous work and trafficking; work within the public security sections of local police stations and work within public security sections of local police stations.235

4.4.3 The judiciary

In 2013, the Government conducted 10 child trafficking investigations, and five children were removed from exploitative labour situations and eight children were rescued from traffickers as a result of these investigations; these children were placed in the care of social services. The investigations targeted trafficking within Cameroon for labor exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation.236 At least one person was convicted of child trafficking. In the case of The People of Cameroon v Lucia Mbungson 2013 suit no. hcf/03C/13, a lady trafficked a baby from Nigeria to Cameroon. She was caught and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment. The Ministry of Justice in 2009 reported a good number of cases on sexual abuse of children. In some of the cases, the perpetrators were sentenced for 5-6 six years imprisonment. This adds credence to the fact that the judiciary is actively involved in the fight against child labour.237

4.4.4 Government policies

The government of Cameroon has embarked on several policies geared towards combating child labour. One of these policies is the Trafficking in Persons Action Plan. This plan outlines efforts to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders; to educate law enforcement personnel and social workers; to develop and enact legislation prohibiting the trafficking of adults and to train enforcement personnel on how to use the human trafficking database.238

In 2013, the Government and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) launched a new Country Program Action Plan to address the full development of young children and build on the previous Country Program Action Plan.239 The Government appoints Child Parliamentarians to make recommendations on issues related to children, including child labour.240 Still in 2013, the government also embarked on a Project to Fight the Phenomenon of Street Children. The purpose of this program was to gather information on street children and offer health care, education, and psychosocial care.241

In February 2011, the Minister of Social Affairs launched a nationwide campaign against the sexual exploitation of children, which included discussions on the provisions of the anti-trafficking law against child trafficking. Also in February 2011, an NGO founded and chaired by Cameroon's First Lady signed a partnership agreement with a private organization of tourism agencies and tour operators to implement an initiative to prevent commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cameroon. The government continued to provide members of the Cameroonian armed forces with training on human trafficking prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping mission as part of an overall briefing on international humanitarian law.

The propagation of the rights of the child is carried out by:

- The organization of awareness campaigns during celebrations marking the Day of the African Child (16 June), National Youth Day (February 11) and various other national and local events;242
- The organization since 1998 of sessions of the Children's Parliament with the sensitization of junior parliamentarians on the rights of the child and distribution of various information carriers;
- Production of 15,000 tapes on the CDE distributed to children in schools and other walks of life during the sensitization campaigns;
- The production of posters and flyers for public awareness on the violation of children's rights;
- The organization of several annual editions of Radio and Television Days for children, based on the protection and promotion of the rights of the child;
- The gradual integration of modules on the teaching of human and children’s rights in school and university curricula.243

4.5 Forms of Child Labour in Cameroon

Cameroon is a source, transit, and destination country for children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, and a country of origin for women subjected to forced labour and forced prostitution. Trafficking operations generally target two or three children, usually when rural parents hand over their children to a middleman who promises an education or a better life in the city.

4.5.1 Child Trafficking

Child trafficking is a form of Child labour. The UNICEF Innocent Research Centre provides:

The trafficking of children is one of the gravest violations of human rights in the world today. Children and their families are convinced by the empty promises of the trafficking networks - promises of a better life, of an escape route from poverty - and every year, hundreds of thousands of children are smuggled across borders and sold as mere commodities. Their survival and development are threatened, and their rights to education, to health, to grow up within a family, to protection from exploitation and abuse, are denied. Their plight is of growing concern to governments, international agencies, NGOs and the media and there is increasing awareness of the complexity of child trafficking as a complex inter-country phenomenon.244

Trafficking of children is a form of human trafficking and is defined as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, and/or receipt" of a child for the purpose of exploitation.245 It is said that a child has been trafficked if he or she has been moved within a country, or across borders, whether by force or not, with the purpose of exploiting the child.246 Trafficking has been and still is a major problem in Africa today as it is all over the world. Countries in Africa such as Cameroon have been identified as a source, transit and final destination for trafficked victims.247

ILO report on trafficking reported that Africa has been described as having the highest percentage of child workers in the world. The statistics reveal that 80 million or 41% of African children work248. These children are usually between the ages of five and fourteen and the largest percentage of these child workers are the female children who are usually engaged as domestic workers.249

Cameroon by virtue of its being a party to the CRC is enjoined to take appropriate measures to combat child trafficking in the region.250 The measures taken by the government of Cameroon have so far cast doubts on Cameroon’s commitment to the CRC; given the prevalence of child trafficking in Cameroon.

According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), thousands of Cameroonian children fall victim to trafficking every year.251 Children are exploited as laborers on plantations and cocoa farms252 and also as workers in small shops, bars, and households.253 It is common for a middle-class family in Cameroon to have one or several children working for them in exchange for a very modest wage and minimal education.254 The practice of child labor in households and fields is a tradition that sometimes masks trafficking. In rural areas, children as young as 4 are expected to work.255 A recent survey sampled children and employers in Yaounde, in Limbe and in Mbangasina, a region with large cocoa farms. The survey revealed that children from Chad, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria were paid as little as 3,000 CFA francs per month to perform chores sometimes lasting 18 hours a day. The children suffered from malnourishment and sexual abuse.256

A case of the ineffectiveness of Cameroon combating child trafficking has been reported in the South West Region where a 12 year old girl was seen selling around the South West governor’s office when others were in school.257 After questioning, it was revealed she lives with an aunt of hers who had brought her from her native town Tombel, promising to send her to school. When she got to Buea, the story changed as she was instead made a hawker.258

Contacted by Justice and Peace Commission, the aunt said she hadn’t money to buy her school needs and pay her fees. She later said the child is not bright in school and did not pass her last promotion exams; an allegation which the young girl refuted. By press time, arrangements were being made to send back the child to her mother who resides in Tombel.

Child trafficking has recently been a disturbing issue to both the government of Nigeria and Cameroon; occasioned by the Islamic Sect Boko Haram. On December 14th 2014, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped 185 women and children and killed 32 in a raid in the village of Gumsuri, north of Chibok.259 At the height of the attacks in northern Cameroon in February, Boko Haram deployed children on the frontline260 In the month of December 2014, security forces arrested 84 boys from Koranic schools in northern Cameroon, some as young as 5, and since have held them without charges in a children’s detention centre. Most of the children arrested by Cameroonian authorities are under the age of 10, and only three are older than 15.261

4.5.2 Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is another fundamental violation of children’s rights. It is an attack on human dignity and inhibits the social and economic development of a country: destroying a child’s life through sexual exploitation also destroys his or her chances of integrating into society.262

Sexual exploitation of children is based on three closely linked themes.263 The first is sexual abuse.264 It is the act in which a child is used for sexual purposes. The abuse is carried out by a person (adult or older child) whom the child trusts (parent, brother, a member of the extended family, teacher, guardian, etc.) or any other person in a position of power, authority or control over the child.265 The abuse may be physical, verbal or psycho-emotional. The second theme is sexual violence266 which is characterized by any type of sexual relations imposed on a child by force, coercion, threat or surprise by a person upon whom a child is dependent or feels dependent: this pressure can cloud the child’s judgement and restrict the independence of his or her responses. The pressure may be physical, but is most often psychological: reduction, praise, reward, blackmail and threats, and is often about keeping the act a secret as about the act itself. Commercial sexual exploitation is characterized by the payment in cash or in kind in exchange for sexual relations and implies the idea of profit, whether economic, social or other. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is the sexual abuse of any person under 18 years old, for remuneration in cash or kind to the child or a third person or persons. The child is treated both as a sexual object and as a commercial object. The commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children, and amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery.

The common form of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Cameroon is child prostitution.267 Prostitution of children or child prostitution is prostitution involving a child. The term normally refers to prostitution of a minor, or person under the legal age of maturity.268

Children in Cameroon are highly at risk for sexual exploitation. One out of four children under eight years of age is orphaned while almost 30% of children under five do not have the proper identification papers.269 Even worse, 26% of children under eight are victims of serious physical abuse270.

Trafficking of people for sexual exploitation occurs highly in Cameroon. Most victims are children trafficked within the country, with girls primarily trafficked for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.271 The enabling factors for such abuse are extreme poverty, the lack of parental support and an inadequate legislation to combat this phenomenon. These factors also push young people into prostitution. According to one study, around 4000 of children aged 11 to 17 are victims of child prostitution in Cameroon and most are forced into prostitution between the ages of 9 and 17272.

Despite being victims, the authorities treat these children as criminals and many are arrested and then forced to have sex with police officers in order to be released. Moreover, one out of every four children forced to work in the sex trade is subjected to torture by both the clients and police.273

Sex tourism is common in Cameroon, where officials and health advocates fear its detrimental effects on HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns.274

4.5.3 Hawking/ Street children

Children are engaged in the sales and services sector of the economy in both the rural and urban areas as street hawkers, domestic servants, car washers, beggars and even prostitutes. Children employed in these endeavours, often labelled "street children", have run away from parental or guardian abuse, to make out a living on their own.275

This is the situation of children in Cameroon who roam the street to sell or offer services.

In the programme to curb the phenomenon of street children, 469 children between 4 and 18 years old were identified by social centres in Yaounde and Douala. 119 of them have been returned to their respective families, 63 others were admitted to primary and secondary schools for the 2008/2009 academic year, while another 62 have been placed in different institutions.276

Hawking is a rampant activity in Cameroon especially in big towns like Douala and Yaunde. It is also common in the South West Province especially Buea. Enanga a 10 year old girl said that her step mother has refused to send her to school. She said she does not have money and that if she has to go to school, she must also help her to raise the money. Every morining at 8am she leaves the house with her bucket of eggs to sell. She toils all the corners of Molyko just to sell. At times she come very late at night just to sell everything. This has happened for two years now.

CHAPTER FIVE CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

5.1 Conclusion

From the chapters, we have discussed the protection of the rights of the child at the international level and national level as illustrated in the case of Cameroon. This work has also discussed the various courts and instruments available in Africa for the protection of the rights of the child. It has been demonstrated in the work that regional courts are very instrumental in protecting children’s rights in Africa. For instance, the case of SERAP (Socio- Economic Rights and Accountability Project) v The Federal Republic of Nigeria, ECW/CCJ/APP/0808, of October 27, 2009277 which was heard by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice illustrates the role of the court in protecting children’s rights. SERAP, a human rights nongovernmental organization sued the Federal Republic of Nigeria and UBEC (Universal Basic Education Commission) for violation of the right to quality education for children, the right to dignity, the right of their people to their wealth and natural resources and to economic and social development guaranteed by articles 1, 2, 17, 21 and 22 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.

With regards to the various rights of the child, embodied in international legal instruments, we have seen that the CRC and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child are the main instruments that protect children’s rights. Also, there exist various mechanisms to enforce the laws. It is true to say that Cameroonian laws protecting children’s rights originate from these instruments. It is not necessary at this juncture to belabour the content of the Conventions. What is relevant here is that these Conventions provide the appropriate safeguards of the welfare of the child, given that they guarantee the child’s right to life,278 education,279 privacy,280 freedom from torture and harmful practices.

This research has also demonstrated the multiple safeguards accorded to children as enunciated in national laws of Cameroon. The laws have been discussed in relation to the various rights. For example the right to education is contained in Article 47 of the public schools decree no. 2001/041 of 19 February 2001 setting the duties and responsibilities of school administration, providing for free public primary education. The Cameroon Constitution which is the highest law of the land provides for free primary education. This is a good step in ensuring the right to education. However hawking by a child of a tender age during school period is rampant in Cameroon and implies that parents prefer sending their children to hawk rather than sending them to school. With regards to the right to health, there is the draft of the Child Protection Code which provides extensively for the right to health and classifies deprivation of health as ill-treatment from which children must be protected.281 As already discussed, measures geared towards ameliorating the health conditions of children have been put in place by the government of Cameroon.

Child labour has been discussed in the research to demonstrate a specific perspective, on what obtains in Cameroon as far as the welfare of children is concerned. It has been averred that Cameroon has taken measures to combat child labour in Cameroon. Nevertheless, child labour still persists in the country. From an overview of child labour in Cameroon, it is observed that, child labour started in Cameroon since in 1884, with the coming of the colonialists who recruited children for blacksmithing, drum-making, divining, weaving, dyeing, mining, wood carving through kin fosterage and apprenticeships. It quietened during the colonial period 1945-1960. Today, forced labour is rampant in Cameroon. In answering the question on what has been done so far to combat child labour in Cameroon, we have cited the laws prohibiting child labour in our discussion.

The starting point for these laws is the ILO Conventions such as ILO Convention No. 138 which sets the age at which children may be legally employed to prevent child labour. Cameroon being a party to this Convention has incorporated its provisions into its national laws. For instance, the Labour Code sets the minimum age for work at 14.282 This is in accordance with ILO Convention 138 which provides that, a Member state whose economy and educational facilities are insufficiently developed may, after consultation with the organization of employers and workers concerned, where such exist, initially specify a minimum age of 14 years.283 Other laws that prohibit forced labour in Cameroon are the Penal Code, the 2011 Law Project Relating to the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery. Measures have been taken to enforce the laws by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and the Ministry of Justice. As discussed in the work, offences relating to child labour have been handled by officials of the Ministries. The Ministry of Justice via the courts has also enforced the laws on child labour. It is also important to recall here that the National Commission on Human rights and Freedoms is also involved in this implementation process by checking and reporting on violations of children’s rights.

The various forms of child labour in Cameroon have been discussed in this work. Child trafficking is posing a serious problem to the government of Cameroon. It has been shown that irrespective of the laws, child trafficking still persist in Cameroon. The extension of the activities of the insurgents in Nigeria to Cameroon has compounded the problem of child trafficking in Cameroon. Sexual exploitation which is another form of child labour is a typical case of the violation of a child’s right to sustainable development contained in the CRC. This is because destroying a child’s life through sexual exploitation also destroys his or her chances of integrating into society. This research has shown that this form of child abuse, especially child prostitution, is practiced in Cameroon.

5.2 Recommendations

-Given that child labour is a serious violation of the right of the child in Cameroon, measures should be taken to intensify the fight against child trafficking. It is recommended that the government of Cameroon should take appropriate measures to redress child labour in the area of education. The free primary education is a good step in combating child labour, but more needs to be done. The government should be engaged in a sensitization campaign to educate parents to see the importance of a child’s education. This will encourage parents to send their children to school rather than subjecting them to forced labour.
-As already mentioned, hawking is a serious problem in Cameroon. To redress this situation, it is proposed that the legislation prohibiting hawking should be enforced. Given that most children often hawk against their will, that is, being forced by parents or guardians, the legislation should be directed to the parents or guardians who are the causes of hawking. Offenders should be punished. A special team carrying out a survey on children hawking should be engaged to deter this activity. This will deter parents from engaging their children into hawking. With this, one can therefore say that hawking would be exterminated in Cameroon.
-Children have the right to life and adequate medical care. The poor health condition of children in Cameroon should be redressed. In this light, the government should improve the health condition of children. The effort of the government so far in ameliorating the health condition of children is commendable. For instance the provision of free vaccines to children is a positive step. However, more still needs to be done. The government should therefore establish health centres in the various regions of Cameroon to give special attention to infants. The health centres should be accessible by all. Meaning even the poor should make use of it at the expense of the government. This will help to reduce the high infant mortality rate in Cameroon. This is because the poor will be able to have their children treated, given that high infant mortality rate in the country is as a result of poverty.
-Given that Cameroon is a developing country and like other developing countries is limited financially to combat human rights violations. It is recommended that the government should get more funds to enable her protect the right to health by children. This will greatly benefit the government to provide health facilities to children.
-Mindful of the fact that children’s rights rarely come before the courts, the National Commission on Human rights and Freedoms should be more active in protecting the child’s rights. As a follow up, it is necessary to reform the present system so as to guarantee the independence of the national human rights commission enunciated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.284 The 1990 Decree creating the NHRC should be amended to guarantee the independence of the commission. In this light the President and other top officials should be elected rather than appointed by the government. This will enable the commission to function effectively free from government influence and as such will be encouraged to report the actual situation of violation of the child’s rights in Cameroon. It is imperative for NHRC to have not just an advisory function but to also have a binding force to give effect to its recommendations. It is impeded to effectively protect children’s rights because its decisions are not binding. It is therefore necessary for its decisions to have a binding force so as to induce compliance with international instruments protecting the child’s rights. This can also be possible by an amendment of the existing law that created the NHRC.

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[...]


1 Article 2 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

2 A. Muthoga, “Introducing the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child”, paper presented at the International Conference of the Rights of a Child, organized by Community Law Centre at the University of Capetown, (1992), p. 123

3 S. Moyn, “The Last Utopia: Human rights in History”, Belknap Press 2010, p 337

4 S. Moyn, “The Old New Things”, Belknap Press, 2010, p 8.

5 Ibid

6 H. Burns Weston , Encyclopedia Britannica, Human rights, 2014, retrieved August 2014.

7 S. Garton Kamchedzera , “The Complementarily of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the African Charter of the Rights of the Child”, in Eugeen Verhellen (ed), Understanding Children’s Rights 1998, p 550

8 Ibid

9 http://www.cjdhr.org/2009-06/Eric-Njungwe.pdf, visited, 05/10/2014

10 J. G. Merrills, “The Mosaic of International Dispute Settlement procedures: Complementary or Contradictory?”54 Netherlands International Law Review, 2007, p 361.

11 J. Sloth Nielsen, “Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child: Some Implications for South African Law”, South African Journal on Human rights, 1995, p 401.

12 T W. Bennett, “Human Rights and African Customary law”, (1995), p 6.

13 Cameroon ratified the CRC in 1993 and the ACRWC in 1997

14 A. Akonumbo, “Implementation Framework for Children’s Rights and Welfare Standards: Profiling the Harmonization Status of ChildLlaw” ACPF Report, 2008 p.24

15 The 1996 Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon (as Amended in 2008)

16 It states that the law is to fight against child trafficking and slavery

17 Section 7 of Law No. 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on education guidance

18 ibid

19 Article 4 of Decree No. 2010/0243/PM of February 2010 on the procedures for the exercise of responsibilities transferred by the state to local councils in matters related to the allocation of aid and relief to the poor and needy

20 http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Regionsandcountries/Africa/Cameroon/WCMS_202253/lang--en/index.htm, visited,12/11/2014

21 http://www.ilo.org/ipec/Campaignandadvocacy/Youthinaction/C182-Youth- orientated/C182Youth_Convention/lang--en/index.htm, visited, 11/11/2015

22 http://sites.google.com/site/nkumufedfed/home/partnerships, visited, 11/11/2015

23 Government of Cameroon, “Etude sur le travail des enfants au Cameroun”, Institut National de la Statistique, 2007 p 2 to 3.

24 http://www.gci-cameroon.org/about-cameroon/human-rights-issues/, visited, 12/11/2014

25 A. Akonumbo, A Cross Examining the Propriety of the OHADA Reform in Cameroon: Great Expectations to Procrastinations, ACPF Report , 2008 p.61

26 Y. Mbassi- Bikele, Education: A Quoi Servent les APEE? Cameroon- Tribune, January 16, 2013, p.1

27 http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/, visited,12/11/2014

28 http://www.childinfo.org/files/Cameroon_FGC_profile_English, visited, 12/11/2014

29 http://www.endfgm.eu/en/female-genital-mutilation/what-is-fgm/effects-of-fgm/, visited, 12/11/2014

30 B. Rosaline Ngunshi, “Breast Ironing: A harmful traditional practice in Cameroon”, Gender Empowerment and Development (GeED), August 2011. P 5

31 ibid

32 http://www.theworldly.org/ArticlesPages/Articles2006/September06Articles/Cameroon- Ironing.html,visited, 14/11/2014

33 B. Rosaline Ngunshi op cit, p 8.

34 http://www.humanium.org/en/cameroon/, visited, 14/11/2014

35 ibid

36 Global Iniative On Out of School Children UNESCO, UNICEF and the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS),2005

37 ibid

38 http://www.ccdhr.org/press-releases/2009/08-20- CameroonHumanRightsCommission.htm,visited,03/01/2015

39 S. Bissell, et al, Rethinking Child Protection from a Rights Perspective: Some Observations for Discussion, 2006, available at http:// www.researchgate.net/ publication/, visited 23 /08/2015

40 See A. Akonumbo, op cit. p.24.

41 A. Akonumbo op cit, p 143

42 A. David, et al., Political Theory, 2004, p. 602

43 http://www.nlnrac.org/classical/Cicero. Visited 10/12/2014.

44 http://www.nlnrac.org/earlymodern/hobbes. Visited, 10/12/2014

45 Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

46 J. Rawls, “A theory of Justice”, Havard University press, (1971), p. 27

47 Cambridge dictionary of Philosophy, “Rawls John”, Cambridge University Press 2nd Edition, (1999) p 774- 775

48 J. Rawls op cit, p. 60

49 A. Bloom, “Justice: John Rawls vs The Tradition of Political Philosophy”, The American Political Science Review, June 1975, p 648- 662

50 ibid

51 The Preamble of the ILO Constitution

52 The Preamble to the Constitution of Cameroon

53 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantian_ethics, visited,04/02/2015

54 http://en.m.wikipedia:org/ipec/facts/lang—en/index.htm, visited, 04/02/2015

55 http://www.ilo.org/ipec/facts/lang--en/index.htm, visited, 20/08/2015.

56 United Nations, “Convention on the Rights of the Child”, archived from the original on 3rd October 2006, retrieved on 5th October 2006.

57 D.A. Galbi, “Child Labor and the Division of Labor in the Early English Cotton Mills”, Centre for History and Economics King’s College, 1994, available at http://www.galbithink.org/child.htm, visited 23/08/2015

58 E. Eric V, and N. Pavcnik, “Child Labor in the Global Economy”, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2005, p 199.

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60 http://www.unicef.org/media/media_70610.htmll, visited, 19/07/2015.

61 Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

62 Article 2 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

63 http://thefreedictionary.com, visited, 21/07/2015

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66 B. Bandman, Children’s Right to Freedom, Care, and Enlightenment, (New York : Garland Publishers, 1999), p.67

67 E. Alice et al, “Youth, Privacy and Reputation Literature Review,” Harvard University Public Law Working Paper No. 10 to29, 2010, p. 10

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70 “Boko Haram in Cameroon kidnappings”, BBC News Africa, 18th January 2015. Retrieved 04/03/2015.

71 The Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts (UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263 of 25 May 2000).

72 Article 2 of the African Children’s Charter, a child means every human being below the age of 18 years.

73 The Optional Protocol op cit. Article 1 provides that Sate Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities. On its part; article 2 urges states parties to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.

74 Article 77 of Protocol I to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949

75 Article 11(2)(d) of the African Children Charter

76 Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right

77 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rights_to_education, visited, 25/04/2015

78 Article 28 and 29 CRC

79 http: //benefitof.net/benefits-of-free-education/, visited, 21/04/2015

80 Article 25 Universal Declaration of Human Rights

81 Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of Civil and Political Rights

82 Article 24 of the CRC.

83 Article 15 (2) of the African Children’s Charter

84 Article 32 of the CRC.

85 Article 1 ILO Convention concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour N0.138 and N0.182 1999

86 article 3 ibid

87 www.santac.org/eng/Human/trafficking/definition-of-child-trafficking-elements, visited, 21/04/2015

88 S. Sceats, “Africa’s New Human Rights Court: Whistling in the Wind?” Chatham House Briefing Papers on International Law, London, 2009, p. 1 to 4.

89 The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right s on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is available at http://www.achpr.org /english /_info/court_en.html. Visited, 10/03/2015.

90 Article 16 (2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

91 http://www.au.int/en/organs/cj, visited,06/02/2015

92 The Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights is available at http://www.africaunion.org/root/au/Documents/Treaties/text/Protocol%20on%20the%20Merged%20Co urt%20-%20EN.pdf. Visited, 11/03/2015.

93 J.U. Nsongurua, “Towards the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights : Better Late Than Never”, Yale Human Rights and Development Journal, 2014,p.45

94 S. Sceats, op cit, p. 5.

95 ibid

96 Protocol A/P1/11/84 Relating to Community Enterprises, Nov. 23, 1984;see ECOWAS Ministers of Justice Meet in Lagos,2CONTACTMAG., no. 3, 1990, at 15 (on file) (reporting statements by ECOWAS Deputy Executive Secretary Adelino Queta).

97 M. John Kabia, “Humanitarian Intervention and Conflict Resolution in West Africa”, From ECOMOG to ECOMIL, 2009, p.57

98 P. Arthur, “ECOWAS and Regional Peacekeeping Integration in West Africa: Lessons for the Future”, 57 AFRICA TODAY, 2010, p 2.

99 Article 2 of the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace-Keeping and Security.

100 Article 3 (4) of the 2005 Supplementary Protocol of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice

101 Article 38 of the Statute of International Court of Justice

102 Article 32 to 40 of rules of procedure of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.

103 http://www.vanguardngr.com/2010/11/ecowas-court-orders-nigeria-to-provide-free-education-for- every-child/#sthash.6Gbi76M3.dpuf, visited, 16/03/2015.

104 Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

105 http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Commission_on_Human_and_Peoples’_Rights, visited, 20/03/2015.

106 A. Bello, “The Mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights”, 1 African Journal of International Law, 1988, p. 31.

107 Art 45 of the African Charter; for detailed discussion see, Murray, “The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and International Law”, Leiden Journal of International Law, 2000, p.14

108 Arts 45(1)(a), (b) and (c).

109 U.O Umozurike , “The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights “,ICLQ , 1997, p. 176.

110 R. Murray, “The Special Rapporteurs in the African System”in Evans, M & Murray, R (eds),The African Charter on Human and Peoples”Rights: The System in Practice 1986-2006 , 2008, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008),p.34 .

111 M. Evans et al, “The Reporting Mechanism of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights” ,African Human Right Journal, 2005,p.40

112 Viljoen, “State Compliance with the Recommendations of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights,” American Journal of International Law,Vol. 101, No. 1, 2007, p.23

113 Meaning they are form for a particular purpose and dissolves after accomplishing that purpose. They are not permanent

114 Rule 28 of the Rules of Procedure.

115 Viljoen, note,p. 319.

116 Umozurike, op cit, note 12,p. 319.

117 Art 59(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights

118 http://www.crin.org/en/guides/un-international-system/regional-mechanisms/african-commission- human-and-peoples-rights, visited, 03/04/2015.

119 African Union, Executive council Twenty-First Ordinary Session 9 -13 July 2012 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,p.1

120 ibid

121 Article 22(2) and 22(3). African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC). “African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.” Available online: http://acerwc.org/the-african-charter-on-the-rights-and-welfare-of-the-child-acrwc/acrwc-en/, visited, 24/11/2014.

122 J. Sloth-Nielsen, “Regional Frameworks for Safeguarding Children: The Role of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Journal of social sciences,p.953

123 Article 42(a)(i) ACRWC

124 Article 42(a)(ii) ACRWC

125 Article 42(c) ACRWC

126 Article 42(d) ACRWC

127 The preamble to the Constitution of 18 January 1996

128 Article 6 of act 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on guidelines for education in Cameroon

129 Article 7 of act 98/004 of 14 April 1998 on guidelines for education in Cameroon.

130 http://www.lukmefcameroon.org/Bridge%20website/projectjustification.html, visited, 25/05/2015

131 It sets out the duties and responsibilities of school administration

132 on government ministerial departments on child education

133 Committee on the Rights of the Child, opcit 56.

134 Committee on the Rights of the Child, opcit, p. 40.

135 Ibid

136 Cameroon Tribune, “Disabled Children make up for Education Loopholes”, 11 June 2012. See https://cameroon-tribune.cm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=68707:disabled- children-make-up-for-education-loopholes&catid=4:societe&Itemid=3, visited, 03/06/2015.

137 The Declaration of Alma Ata of 1978 is a proclamation which expressed the need for urgent action by all governments, all health and development workers, and the world community to protect and promote the health of people. It was adopted at the International Conference on Primary Health Care (PHC) from 6th to 12th September 1978. It was also the first international declaration underlining the importance of health care.

138 Sections 47 and 48 of the draft Child Protection Code.

139 http://countryoffice.unfpa.org/cameroun/2014/05/16/9743/government_of_cameroon_launches_multi sectoral_program_to_reduce_maternal_amp_child_mortality/ visited, 29/05/2015.

140 Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2005, p 30.

141 V. Biy Yongka, “ Over 430 Street Children Identified in Yaounde, Douala”, jimbimedia, 2008, p. 1

142 ibid

143 O. Nwobodo, “Operation cooperation between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Nigerian Red Cross Society”, International Review of the Red Cross, 1998, p 323.

144 COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, opcit, p 61

145 ibid

146 http//www.unhcr.org/pages/4a03e1926.html, visited, 10/06/2015

147 Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition, 2005, p 1370

148 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19920332, visited, 12/06/2015.

149 A. Dipanda Mouelle, Torture, the Barbarity of Mankind, Indiana, Universit&eacute, 1998, p 132

150 Order No. 17/MTLS/DEGRE of 27 May 1969

151 Article 82 of the Labor code

152 Articles 104 to 109 of the Labor code

153 Committee on the Rights of the Child, “consideration of reports submitted by states parties under article 44 of the convention , Initial reports of States parties due in 1995 , Addendum , CAMEROON”, United Nations CRC, 2000, pg 6.

154 F. Divine Sackmen, “Modernisation Processes and Child Labour in Central Africa”, Masters Thesis, Oslo University College,2011,p.28

155 G. Esther, Learning, Apprenticeship and Division of Labour, 1989, in M. William Coy (ed). Apprenticeship: From Theory to Method and Back Again. Albany State, New York: University of New York Press, p. 238

156 ibid

157 Fotso op cit,p.31

158 Grier, Beverly, Child Labor in Colonial Africa. in H. D. Hindman (ed). The World of Child Labor: An Historical and Regional Survey, New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc, 2009,pp. 173 - 176.

159 Sundstrom, Lars, The Exchange Economy of Pre-colonial Tropical Africa. London: C. Hurst & Company,1974,p.6

160 ibid

161 Fotso, op cit.,p.32

162 ibid

163 Grier, op cit

164 http://www.zum.de/whkmla/region/centrafrica/cameroon18841918.html, visited, 27/07/2015

165 Fotso op cit.,p.33

166 Grier, op cit

167 International Labour Organization, ‘Child Labour’,2004, p.37

168 ibid. p.81

169 ibid. p.81

170 ibid.p.83

171 A. Aderinto, Social Correlates and Coping Measures of street Children: A Comparative Study of Street and non street Children in South western Nigeria. Ado Ekiti: Olubamese Printers,2000,p.3

172 R. Salah, ‘Child trafficking in West and Central Africa: an overview’, UNICEF, 2001,p. 4.

173 M. Pertile, Introduction: The Fight Against Child Labour in a Globalised World, Aldershot: Publishing Ltd, 2008

174 R. Salah, op cit., p. 4.

175 E. Harsch, ‘Child labour in Africa is rooted in poverty,’ Vol.15 (3)Africa Recovery,2001,p. 14.

176 ibid

177 A. Kelland, Children at Work: Child Labour Practices in Africa, London: Lynne Rienner Publishers,2006,p.23

178 C. Tuttle, “History Repeats Itself: Child Labor in Latin America,” Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Volume 18, No. 2, 2006,p.143

179 K. Basu and Z. Tzannatos, “The Global Child Labor Problem: What Do We Know and What can We Do?” The World Bank Economic Review, Vol. 17, No. 2,2003, p.147

180 S. Mathias, op cit.,p.37

181 ILO, UNICEF, 1998. Who Works Where? UICEF- Beyond Child Labour and Child Labour in Africa: Targeting the Intolerable.Geneva.

182 Verajie, “Human Trafficking and Child Labor in Africa: Mans Inhumanity to Man”, THE EUROPEAN UIVERSITY CENTER FOR PEACE, 2005,p.19

183 S. Mathias, “Child Labour and the Violation of Child Rights: A Case of Child Workers on Tea and Tobacco Plantations in Malawi, Masters thesis, University of Tromso - Norway,2010,p.32

184 J. Foster, Why does Child Labor occur? 1996. Available at http://www.ear lham.edu/pols/global probs/ children/Amye.html, visited,27/07/2015

185 ibid

186 See Art I (2)(b)

187 Diana Publishing, 2002 comprehensive report on U.S. trade and investment policy toward SubSaharan Africa,2002,p.40

188 K. Theodore, “Forced Child Labour: A Critical Analysis of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Compliance with International Labour Standards”, Masters thesis, University of Cape Town, unpublished, 2013,p.26

189 ILO, A future without child labour, 2002, para.220,p.67

190 Section 86(1)of the Labor Code

191 Law No. 92/007 of 14 August 1992, part I, section 2(3).

192 Section 2(4).

193 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. July 1, 2009

194 Law No. 017, Sections 86 and 87 of the Labor Code

195 ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) Cameroon (ratification: 2002) Submitted: 2011 accessed February 19, 2013;http://www.ilo.org/ilolex/english/iloquery.htm, visited, 01/07/2015.

196 United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs ,2012 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor,p.1

197 Law No. 98/004

198 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 10, 2011

199 Article 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Right annexed to the Constitution

200 Section 342 Cameroon Penal Code

201 Article 343.

202 Article 350.

203 Section 343 of the Penal Code

204 Law No. 2010/12

205 Articles 292 and 293 of the Penal Code

206 Presidential Decree No. 1994/185 (40, 41)

207 Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. “Cameroon,” in Child Soldiers Global Report 2008. London; 2008; http://www.childsoldiersglobalreport.org/files/country_pdfs/FINAL_ 2008_ Global_ Report.pd; Child Soldiers International. Louder Than Words: An Agenda for Action to End State Use of Child Soldiers. London; October 16, 2012. http://www.child-soldiers.org/global_ report_reader. php?id=562, visited, 02/07/2015

208 U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, op cit p.3

209 Government of Cameroon. Law Project Relating to the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery, enacted December 14, 2011.

210 Section 4

211 Section 5 of LAW No 2011 / 024 OF 14 December 2011 Relating to the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons and Slavery

212 Section 3

213 Integrated Regional Information Networks. “Cameroon: Bringing street children back home.” IRINnews.org [online] July 29, 2009 [cited February Report.aspx?ReportId=85492, visited, 03/07/2015

214 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde. reporting, January 18, 2014.

215 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde. reporting, January 30, 2013

216 ibid 20, 2013]; http://www.irinnews.org/ Print

217 ILO Committee of Experts. Individual Direct Request concerning Labor Inspection Convention, 1947 (No. 81) Cameroon (ratification: 1962) Published:2013;http://www.ilo. org/dyn/ normlex /en/,visited,28/07/2015

218 UN Centre for Human Rights National Human Rights Institutions: A handbook on the Establishment and Strengthening of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights(hereinafter UN Handbook) (1995) para 36.

219 UN Fact Sheet No 19 National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights <http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu6/2/fs19.htm#wha. visited,17/04/2015

220 Centre for Human Rights Professional Training Series No. 4 National Human Rights Institutions: A handbook on the establishment and strengthening of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (UN Handbook) 6

221 Penguin Hutchinson Reference Library, Longman Dictionary of English Language: Penguin Books Ltd,1996,p.45

222 O. de Schutter, Promoting and Protecting Fundamental Rights in the European Union: The Role of National Courts, of Human Rights Defenders and of Independent National Human rights Institutions, Directorate-General Internal Policies Policy Department C Citizens Rights and Constitutional Affairs BRIEFING PAPER,2007,p.ii

223 Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

224 Decree No. 90/1459 of 8 November 1990 to set up the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms

225 S. N Gwei, “The Cameroon Experience in Creating and Running a National Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights”, in Hossain K et al. (eds), p.174.

226 Cameroon post line, September 17, 2010, available at http://www.cameroonpostline.com/child- trafficking-thriving-in-cameroon-despite-law/,visited,28/07/2015

227 Report by the Ministry of Justice on Human Rights in Cameroon in 2009,p.15

228 ibid

229 Report by the Ministry of Justice on Human Rights in Cameroon in 2009,p.260

230 ibid

231 ibid

232 http://www.ilo.org/.../cocoa/.../2005_02_cl_co,visited,04/08/2015

233 “Regional Project to Stem Use of Children in Farms Opens in Accra,” Pan-African News Agency Daily Newswire, 16 July 2003.

234 “WACAP Against Child Labour in Cameroon,” Africa News, 25 September 2003.

235 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 12, 2014

236 U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2013 FINDINGS ON THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR ,p.3

237 See Table on Juvenile Justice, Report by the Ministry of Justice on Human rights in Cameroon in 2009,pp.263-267

238 U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2013,p.4

239 U.S. Embassy- Yaounde official. E-mail communication to USDOL official. February 21, 2014

240 Ministry of Social Affairs official. Interview with USDOL consultant. January 30, February 3 and 5, 2009

241 U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2013,op cit,p.4

242 http://www.minas.cm/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=166&Itemid=188&lang=en, visited,28/07/2015

243 ibid

244 UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, ‘Child Trafficking in West Africa: Policy Responses’, 2002,FORWARD

245 Beyrer, Chris. "Global Child Trafficking", the Lancet, 2004, ProQuest Research Library Web. 3 Oct. 2014, p.16-17

246 The programme Towards the Elimination of the worst forms of Child Labour (TECL) of International Labour Organisation, Pretoria, after engagement with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and International Organisation for Migration,1st March 2007

247 Verajie, “Human Trafficking and Child Labor in Africa: Mans Inhumanity to Man”, The European University Center for Peace,2005,p.19

248 ILO, UNICEF, ‘Who Works Where? UNICEF- Beyond Child Labour and Child Labour in Africa: Targeting the Intolerable, Geneva. 1998

249 ibid

250 See article 35 of the The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

251 N. Feujio, Lutte contre le trafic des enfants a des fins d’exploitation de leur travail dans les pays d’Afrique occidentale et centrale—Etude des tendances actuelles: Projet de rapport final du Cameroun (Geneva: International Labor Organization and International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, 2000),p.23.

252 B. Yufeh, “Government to Stamp out Child Trafficking,” Cameroon Tribune, 21 April 2004.

253 Combattre le trafic des enfants a des fins d’exploitation de leur travail en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre, rapport de synthese basé sur les études du Burkina Faso, du Cameroun, du Gabon, du Gahana, du Mali, du Nigéria et du Togo (Geneva: International Labor Organization and International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, 2000).

254 http:/ gvnet.com/humantrafficking/Cameroon.htm, visited, 30/07/2015

255 Combattre le trafic des enfants a des fins d’exploitation de leur travail en Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre, rapport de synthese basé sur les études du Burkina Faso, du Cameroun, du Gabon, du Gahana, du Mali, du Nigéria et du Togo (Geneva: International Labor Organization and International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor, 2000).

256 “Survey Exposes Child Abuse in Cameroon,” Pan-african News Agency Daily Newswire, 18 February 2004.

257 Cameroon post line, september 17, 2010, available at http://www.cameroonpostline.com/child- trafficking-thriving-in-cameroon-despite-law/)

258 ibid

259 I. Hristev, ‘Briefing on Nigeria, covering December 2014 - February 2015’, available at http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Nigeria-briefing2.pdf,visited, 28/07/2015

260 Los Angeles Times, Amnesty International wants Cameroon to free 84 boys accused of backing Boko Haram, June 19, 2015

261 https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/06/cameroonillegaldetention/ visited, 28/07/2015

262 www.unicef.org/.../esewcarofinalreport_en_corrige.pdfunicef,visited,29/07/2015

263 Najat MAALLA, Sexual Abuse and Exploitation of Children in West and Central Africa,UNICEF,2008,p.4

264 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 34 and 35

265 Najat MAALLA,op cit, p.9

266 Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 34 and 35; WHO World report on violence and health (2002

267 ibid

268 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prostitution_of_children,visited,28/07/2015

269 ECPAT International, Rapport Global de Suivi de la mise en œuvre des actions de lutte contre l’exploitation sexuelle des enfants à des fins commerciales, 2013,, Posted on 02/13/2014, 13:17

270 Ibid

271 Trafficking in Persons Report, Released by the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons June 4, 2008,p.1

272 Republic of Cameroon, Etude pilote sur L’Exploitation Sexuelle Commerciale des Enfants au Cameroun en 2010, yaounde, Institut National de la Statistique; 2010, http://www.statistics- cameroon.org/downloads/CSEC/Note_synthese_Rapport_CSEC.pdf, visited, 03/08/2015.

273 ibid

274 “Sex Tourism Hampers HIV/AIDS Prevention,” United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network, 13 August 2004, http://www.plusnews.org/ AIDSreport.asp?ReportID=2380&SelectRegion=Southern_Africa&Select Country=CAMEROON, visited, 28/07/2015

275 B. Finkelman. (1995). Introduction to Child abuse: a multidisciplinary survey: New York: Garland,1995,p.78

276 Cameroon Report, op cit.p.261

277 http://www.vanguardngr.com/2010/11/ecowas-court-orders-nigeria-to-provide-free-education-for- every-child/#sthash.6Gbi76M3.dpuf, visited, 16/03/2015.

278 Article 6 CRC

279 Article 28 CRC and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights

280 Article 16 CRC

281 Sections 47 and 48 of the draft Child Protection Code.

282 Section 86(1)of the Labor Code

283 Article 2(4) ILO Convention 138

284 Article 26 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights

111 of 111 pages

Details

Title
Protection of Children's Rights in Cameroon
College
University of Buea
Course
Thesis
Author
Year
2015
Pages
111
Catalog Number
V349811
ISBN (Book)
9783668370623
File size
1443 KB
Language
English
Tags
protection, children, rights, cameroon
Quote paper
Lovet Ekwen (Author), 2015, Protection of Children's Rights in Cameroon, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/349811

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