Freedom in Cameroon

The Political Context, State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Capital: Yaoundé

Population: 24,053,727

GDP 2017 (US$ million): 34,798.60  

Language: French, English

Political Regime Type: Unitary Dominant-Party Presidential Republic Under Totalitarian Dictatorship

President: Paul Biya

Current Political Context

  • Republic is dominated by a strong presidency, pretty much serving as a totalitarian dictatorship
  • The Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM) has remained in power since 1985
  • Boko Haram continues to have influence and impact on the Far North region, displacing around 240,000 people

State of Democracy

  • Paul Biya was reelected in 2011 in a flawed election 
  • In April 2013 country conducted first Senate elections that were peaceful and considered generally free and fair
  • The Anglophone region of the country has been a target on multiple occasions surrounding abuse

State of Rule of Law

  • The president has the power to control legislation
  • Unfair trails in military courts frequently suffer from irregularities

State of Human Rights

  • Boko Haram has continued to commit serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in the Far North regions
  • In response, authorities and security forces, too, have committed human rights violations and international law crimes like arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, and deaths in custody  in order to combat this threat
  • The torture has become a big issue, with the UN Committee against torture expressing deep concerns and criticizing failure by Cameroonian authorities to clarify whether investigations were being carried out
  • Freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly are continued to be restricted 
  • Telephone and internet services were cut in English-speaking regions of the country
  • At least 250,000 refugees from central African Republic live in harsh conditions in the crowded camps or host families along the border
  • Regardless of the agreement signed between Nigeria, Cameroon, and the UNHCR, Cameroon has forcibly returned at least 4,400 Nigerians
  • Of the 3.3 million people who needed humanitarian assistance, 61% were from the Far North region
  • Harsh prison conditions, violations of freedoms of expression and assembly, periodic government restrictions on access to the internet, trafficking in persons, criminalisation and arrest of individuals engaged in consensual same-sex sexual conduct, and violations of workers’ rights are other pervasive human rights issues within the country

Freedom House Democracy Index Score (2018): 22/100