“Roads Have Stories” (Taken up by The Advocate Newspaper)

20181205_072759

My Article published on 18 November 2018 on “Roads Have Stories” has been taken up by The Advocate Newspaper and published in its 4 December 2018 issue 081. Cite as Aliyu, S. S. (2018, December 4). “Roads Have Stories”: Remembering Victims of Road Traffic Accidents. The Advocate Newspaper, p.8.

Advertisements

“Roads Have Stories”: Commemorating World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims

Tags

, , , , ,

 


img_20181118_172716.jpg

Cameroon, 19 August 2018 – Deadly crash of Divisional Officer of Figuil and family (source: CRTV)


Every year, at least 1.2 million people die from road accidents while over 50 million others incur non-fatal injuries. Currently estimated to be the 9th leading cause of death worldwide, road accidents are predicted to become the 7th death-leading cause by 2030 (Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015).

It is evaluated that road traffic accidents remain the major cause of death for people aged 15-29 worldwide, followed by suicide, HIV/AIDS, and homicide. Low and middle-income countries are considered to be the major harbingers of these ignored alarming death tolls that tear apart families and societies, especially African youths.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries have to fight back this rising rate of road traffic deaths by implementing strict laws and standards aiming at reducing speed, increasing the use of motorcycle helmets, reduce drink-driving, augmenting the use of seat-belts and child restraints, curb drug-driving and distracted driving. According to WHO once more, policymakers also have a great role to play in these quests to reduce accidents by paying attention too to the safety of cars and roads in their efforts to reduce road traffic accidents.

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) was initiated in 1993 by road victims and was later adopted by the United Nations on 26 October 2005 following resolution 60/5. It is commemorated yearly on the third Sunday of November, to pay tribute to millions of people killed and injured on roads across the world. In 2018, the WDR is celebrated with the slogan “roads have stories”.

This day should be bookmarked by policymakers in the government, civil society and private bodies, to ensure that their policies are reflected on the field – on our roads, and that the recurrence of accidents or their deadly impacts be reduced consequentially.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of his/her person and because of this, governments and stakeholders have obligations and responsibilities to protect and fulfil these rights. As part of these obligations and responsibilities, because the protection of life is sacrosanct, African governments have to adhere to the strategies and recommendations of the WHO Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020. They also have to ratify and nationalize the Road Safety Charter of the African Union, which was adopted on 30 January 2016 and has not yet been ratified by any State. This Charter carries along good principles, aiming at:

  • Facilitating the formulation of comprehensive road safety policies at country level,
  • Accelerating the implementation of national, regional and continental road safety programs,
  • Contributing to the coordination of road safety across Africa,
  • Promoting a better coordination of interventions by development partners in the road safety sector,
  • Encourage the participation of the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations in road safety issues, and finally,
  • To better manage data and information on road safety.

The right to life, safety and security of civilians should be of utmost consideration in public policing.

Our hopes for a more just, safe and peaceful world can only be achieved when there is universal respect for the inherent dignity and equal rights of all members of the human family.

– Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka,

UN Women Executive Director, 10 December 2013.

 

Human Rights to Safe Drinking-Water and Sanitation in Cameroon

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

6 August 2018

Submitted to the

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking-Water and Sanitation, Leo Heller

 Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

About 71% of the earth’s surface is covered with water[1] but water remains one of the scarcest natural resource to humans. Water is a necessity to man for various domestic, agricultural, industrial and commercial purposes. This right is adopted for implementation under SDG 6 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. It is also implied in the right to health,[2] right to healthy environment, and right to development.

The right to water is however affected by other factors like climate change, drought, pollution, and human factors. Over one billion people lack access to safe drinking water while 2.6 billion others lack access to basic sanitation.[3] As humans, we have the right to enjoy available, acceptable, safe, accessible, sufficient and affordable water and sanitation services and/or facilities.[4]

This paper has been drafted based on desk research and field visits, with general reference to the state of human rights to water and sanitation in Cameroon and with specific case studies from two Regions, the North West Region (NWR) and South West Region (SWR) of Cameroon, in the neighborhoods of Alachu, Botaland and Mile 4.

Components of Safe Drinking-Water

(a) Available

Water should be readily available for man and for his/her uses. It should not be used or distributed disproportionately between people, communities, or business enterprises. There should be equality as to gender, ethnicity, race or social status as far as the use or distribution of water is concerned. The availability of water should not be conditional, for a determined duration or be short-lived. It should regularly be distributed.[5]

Adding to the issue of water, latrines or other forms of facilities to advance public health have to be constructed. These latrines need to be cleaned properly and frequently to keep it and its environment safe from contagious diseases or bacteria. It should not be constructed beside potable water sources which could affect the health of users or passersby.

b) Acceptable

The safety of water will be tampered with if it is not of acceptable characteristics. To be acceptable is to have a taste, color and odor of consumable quality.[6] Water should not be salty or sweet or bitter or present any component which is unfit for consumption. It should not be colorful or have any smell. This goes a long way to add emphasis on the way water is treated and catered for. Proper water purification products like chlorine and iodine should be used to kill diseases in disregard of other unpopular traditional methods of treatment or processing. Also, the distribution of water should be done in all hygienic ways. The pipes transporting water from the factory should be in good conditions fit for health. Public taps should not be constructed in areas where dirt is dumped or in bushy locations or around latrines.

c) Safe

In order to be safe, consumers must feel comfortable consuming the water without fear of being infected with water-borne diseases. Water should be hygienically treated against all infectious diseases or bacteria.

In Limbe, South West Region, in the neighborhood of Mile 4, women and children often sell in streets, markets, motor parks, and several other areas, without considering their surroundings. Some sell and dish food with water beside trash cans which are stinking, and the surroundings are unkept. Most of these trash cans are hardly disposed of immediately, or within reasonable timeframes. This unhealthy custom of neglecting the environment poses a risk to travelers using motor parks and buying from them, buyers purchasing in markets, or people buying in the streets.

Latrines and other forms of toilets should be in usable conditions which do not present any risk to their users. Local forms of latrines widely used in Cameroon sometimes are dug without proper care. Some collapse after they have been over used. Others are not closed, giving room for dangerous reptiles to enter and inhabit them.

20180804_070053                             Image A (Mile 4, Limbe)                    2018 © Salim Sango

d) Accessible

Available, acceptable and safe water should not be found at locations which present a difficulty to access, use or distribute them. Safe drinking water should not be found at very far distances from those who need it or be found at risky locations where there are dangers of enjoying the water. This condition applies to every individual in a vulnerable group like aged and disabled persons, [refugees,] prisoners, women and children.[7] In Cameroon, the number of households connected to public water has raised from 260,000 in 2014 to 421,000 in 2017, making a 61% increase.[8] But several other communities continue depending on water flowing from natural sources. However, these locations are not always catered for or cleaned, and present a high risk to the local population.

In the community of Alachu, Mile 8, Bamenda, North West Region, children of ages 9 and above trek for over 1km (0,6 miles) into bushes to fetch water necessary for their daily activities. Some go along with heavy containers of 10, 20 liters and more, carrying them either on their hands or their heads. They move these distances to get water to cook, drink, bathe and for other purposes.

IMG_2995         Image B (Alachu, Bamenda)        2018 © Rabiatou Aliyu N.

IMG_2984

Image C (Alachu)           2018 © Rabiatou Aliyu N.

IMG_3014

Image D (Alachu)           2018 © Rabiatou Aliyu N.

20180802_150100

Image E (Alachu)               2018 © Rabiatou Aliyu N.

Latrines in Cameroon though affordable, are neglected by the population because they are sometimes difficult to locate. Some of the latrines are not properly taken care of and they present health risks to users. Lack of sensitization sometimes causes the population to prefer defecating or urinating in bushes, gutters, or on piles of dirt.

e) Sufficient

Good drinking-water should equally be sufficient and not limited in supply. Each person is required to use a minimum of 20 liters of water daily in order to meet the most basic water needs.[9] Individuals, communities or business enterprises should not be discriminated upon. Water should be shared proportionately in order to meet these fundamental recommendations.

In Buea (South West Region) like in several communities across the national territory, many families dig wells wherein they fetch water to cook food, for drinking, doing laundry, bathing, and/or other activities. Water can be used for several purposes, including for keeping the environment and our property clean. This is also why it is necessary to have it in sufficient quantity because an unclean environment will have adverse impacts on the quality of water.

Image F (Muea, Buea)              Image G         2018 © Salim Sango

f) Affordable

Lastly, good and safe drinking-water should be affordable to everyone. The amounts or fees or taxes charged for using, connecting, distributing or repairing water and water sources should not be exorbitant and must conform to the income of a set of individuals or community.

The price for using public toilets in Cameroon is quite affordable, at a cost of 100 FCFA (20 cents) but they are highly underused.

State Obligations and Civic Responsibilities

a) State Obligations

States have the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the right to water and sanitation. States have to ensure that there is no direct interference with water and sanitation, ensure that there is no pollution, diversion or depletion of water resources, and lastly, they have to punish certain activities and defiant behaviors linked to water and sanitation.[10]

b) Civic Responsibilities

The local population, community and enterprises have a responsibility to respect each water user or consumer without discrimination. They must also ensure that water sources are clean and free from any infectious disease or waste. Enterprises have a duty of care not to pollute watercourses with toxic wastes or any type of waste susceptible to endanger the lives of people and the health of communities.[11]

In Limbe (SWR), in the neighborhood of Botaland village, certain families construct latrines nearby to water in order to dump their wastes easily. They construct external toilets, usually called latrines, and connect it to pipes which end of emptying themselves into water at Downbeach.

IMG-20180805-WA0001            Image H (Botaland village, Limbe)       2018 © Salim Sango

Litigating and Advocating for the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

In cases of violation of the human right to water and sanitation, victims can proceed to claim their right through one of the following many ways:

a) National Remedies

The strategies to employ to claim our rights matter immensely but they should start with lobbying and advocacy in our local communities before local leaders like Chiefs, Mayors, Members of Parliaments or Senators representing the given constituency. Parliamentarians are those individuals who represent national, regional and local authorities.[12] They are a good starting point for any advocacy.

In case of failure of lobbying, it is important to bring the matter before the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedom (NCHRF), which by its mandate is charged with duties to protect the fundamental rights of citizens.[13]

Since the NCHRF is not mandated to file cases on behalf of victims of human rights abuses, victims can file suits before competent courts in the areas where the violations have been committed. The Court of First Instance and the High Court are competent courts to receive and adjudicate matters relating to violations of constitutional rights.

b) Regional and Sub-Regional Remedies

In case of exhaustion of local remedies, victims can approach regional bodies for advocacy or litigation. They can resort to international NGOs to put pressure on the government, or resort to regional bodies like the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights or sub-regional bodies like the ECOWAS Court (for West African States). However, Central Africa does not have a sub-regional court which means that the only regional bodies will be those created by the African Union.

c) International Remedies

There are multiple venues at the international arena. The first is to approach UN Special Rapporteurs on thematic mandates which was established in 2008.[14] The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking-Water and Sanitation is an independent expert recruited by the Human Rights Council to investigate, observe, report and recommend issues pertaining to his/her field of expertise. Communications can be sent directly to a Special Rapporteur in case of any violation of a human right to water and sanitation.

Adding to this option, we have the treaty-based bodies (e.g. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) which can adjudicate on Communications alleging violations of the right to water and sanitation. Cameroon has not ratified the protocol creating the CESCR and it makes it impossible for justice to prevail before this body.

Another means is to submit a Complaint to the Human Rights Council’s Working Groups on Communications alleging patterns of gross and reliably attested human rights violations.

All these mechanisms of justice for protection of human rights have their modus operandi which must be fulfilled before Complaints or Communications can be received and examined.

The human right to safe-drinking water is so fundamental that everyone should fight for it and once acquired, should protect it. Even though most international conventions do not implicitly state that safe drinking-water and sanitation are human rights, water remains a human necessity and everyone should enjoy such a right by virtue of his/her humanity and dignity.[15]

 


 

[1] USGS, How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth? https://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html.

[2] General Comment No. 15 on the Right to Water (Articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) 2002, p 2 para 3.

[3] Human Rights and Access to Safe Drinking-Water and Sanitation. A/HRC/7/L.16, 20 March 2008, P 2.

[4] Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque. A/HRC/27/55 of 30 June 2014, p 5 para 13.

[5] ACHPR, Draft Guidelines on the Right to Water in Africa (2018), p 13 para 12.4.

[6] WHO, Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality: Fourth Edition Incorporating the first addendum (2017), p 219.

[7] Ibid n3, p 14 para 13.2.

[8] Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to resolution 16/21 of the Human Rights Council, A/HRC/WG.6/30/CMR/1, 18 May 2018, p 7 para 35.

[9] WHO, Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, 4th Ed. (2011), p 85.

[10] Ibid n3, p 6-15 para 17-54.

[11] Principle 13, Guiding Principle on Business and Human Rights (2011).

[12] Article 26(2)(d)(5), Cameroon Constitution of 1996.

[13] Article 2, Law N° 2004/016 of 22 July 2004 on the Creation, Organization and Functioning of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms.

[14] A/HRC/7/22.

[15] Article 25(i), Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).

Mimi Mefo: The “Pill” Government Could Not Swallow

Tags

, , , ,

 


 IMG-20181110-WA0020


Mimi Mefo Takambou, born on 16 May 1989 in Bafoussam, doubles as professional journalist at the Equinoxe Television, based in Douala, Cameroon, where she works as Editor in Chief for English Service and Publisher for Mimi Mefo Info.

Mimi Mefo was arrested and detained on 7 November 2018 at the New-Bell Central Prison in Douala. The Minister of Communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, held a press conference where he explained the reasons for her arrest, for propagating false information and contempt of public bodies and public servants.

 

After she was arrested, there was a widespread public outcry from her viewers, supporters, family, colleagues, and other media outlets, condemning what they coined as a “terror” attack to press freedom.

After 3 days of incarceration, while her fate was deferred to Monday, 12 November 2018 to be determined by the Military Tribunal, she was released on Saturday, 10 November 2018, surprising a good number of people.

Mimi was worried, underlining that every jailed journalist needs to be freed. According to Mimi, her release was thanks to the efforts, pressure, care, and support of God, friends, colleagues, family and defense team in Cameroon and in the diaspora. The reasons for her release are not widely known but one thing for sure is that she was a pill the government was not ready to swallow.

 

Image

Cameroon – Complaint for Widespread Political Discrimination Against Women

Tags

, , , , ,


screenshot_20181109-221615_adobe acrobat4291592173813807622..jpg


On 9 November 2018, a complaint was filed to the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) in Yaounde, Cameroon.

This complaint is the result of a long time spent carrying out research on Cameroon’s gender policies and projects.

The research was first published on 28 October 2018 by Women for a Change Cameroon, a feminist NGO based in Cameroon.

After observing the gender-related socio-economic and political changes in Africa, notably the rise of women to positions of responsibility in Rwanda, I thought it was high time Cameroonian women took the bull by the horns.

After spending 36 years under Paul Biya’s governance, hopes to see women in positions of command are very slim. Even though they seem to have sluggishly progressed, the rate remains very discouraging for a strategic country like Cameroon.

2018 is the year I decided to lead a juridical and institutional battle where there will be no vanquished, but women will emerge victors.

Cameroon – Mimi Mefo Arrested and Detained for Endangering State Security

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

37036981_1928337827210785_3053880970483597312_n

Douala, 7 November 2018 – The arrest and detention of Cameroon-born Equinoxe TV journalist Mimi Mefo in Douala, economic capital of Cameroon has hit the media sector.

She is accused by government for endangering state security by publishing on social media, information tarnishing the image of the Cameroon armed forces, after one of her posts in which she quotes the Cameroon News Agency accuses the army for killing an American-born Pastor killed accidentally, according to the Minister, in a gun battle opposing the Cameroon Defense and Security Forces (DSF) to the armed secessionist group popularly known as the “Amba Boys”, an armed group fighting the DSFs since October 2017.

Government spokesperson, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Minister of Communication, in a press conference, described the circumstances surrounding the death of the Pastor and the motives for placing Mimi Mefo under arrest at the Douala Newbell Central Prison while awaiting her trial before the Military Tribunal on Monday, 12 November 2018.

“A group of terrorists broke in on the morning of Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at about 10 a.m. in Bambui, a rural area located 14 kilometres from Bamenda in the Tubah Subdivision of the Mezam Division, with the aim to attack the university area and the Tubah Territorial Brigade.

At the same time, American-born Reverend Charles Truman Wesco of blessed memory was passing around when he received a 12-gauge oblique bird-shot fired by a sneaky terrorist. Several pellets reached the victim at the parietal level of his skull, one below the lower right jaw and the last one at the level of his shoulder. He eventually succombed to his wounds.

The Minister Delegate at the Presidency of the Republic in charge of Defence issued a release after this incident indicating that an investigation would be opened immediately. After the first elements of the said investigation were provided by the Judicial Police Officers of the North West Gendarmerie Legion, the remains were transferred to the Yaoundé General Hospital, where an autopsy was carried out in the presence of Cameroonian and American forensic doctors, a representative of the United States Embassy in Cameroon and the Government Commissioner to the Yaoundé Military Court.

During the autopsy, the pellets extracted from the remains confirmed that the shots that killed Reverend Charles Truman Wesco did indeed come from a 12-gauge weapon which is, as we know, used by the secessionist terrorists operating in the North-West and South-West regions.

The impacts left by the shots were effectively located in the right parietal part of the skull, the right face and the right shoulder of the victim; all things that confirm the position of the shooter stationed on the right side of the vehicle, a position occupied by the terrorists at the time of the incident.

Despite the evidence that has just been presented, Mrs MIMI MEFO TAKOMBO, presented as a journalist working in the audiovisual media of the Equinoxe group, stated in one of her posts dated 30 October 2018 at the address Mim237@Mimimefo237-2j that the American missionary was killed by the Cameroonian Army.

Let me give here the full text of her post. I quote: “Bambili in pictures! Doors destroyed, houses ransacked, animals killed. It has the picture of a war zone, where civilians are caught by “stray bullets” targeted killings. A missionary has died today after he was shot by soldiers”, end of quote.

As we can therefore see, the words of Mrs MIMI MEFO TAKOMBO who, in addition to altering the reality of the facts and spreading manifest untruths, do not fail to bring our Defence Forces into disrepute, which is highly detrimental to the morale of the troops, while they are engaged in a loyal and legal fight against criminal hordes with a secessionist agenda.

Summoned to the Gendarmerie Legion of the Littoral on 7 November 2018, Mrs MIMI MEFO TAKOMBO was heard and referred to the Government Commissioner at the Douala Military Court.

Mrs MIMI MEFO TAKOMBO, who of course benefits from the presumption of innocence, is being prosecuted in flagrante delicto before the Douala Military Court for the following facts:

– dissemination of fake news, news lies likely to harm public authorities or national cohesion, facts provided for and punished under Section 113 of the Criminal Code;

– insult against constituted bodies and civil servants, incitement to revolt against the Government and Institutions of the Republic, acts provided for and sanctioned by Section 154 of the Criminal Code.

The defendant was subsequently remanded in custody at the New-Bell Central Prison in Douala.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary,
Minister of Communication
Yaoundé, 8 November 2018