October 16, 2012
UNPO has submitted two reports that will be examined at the 16th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) concerning the current human rights abuses in Bangladesh and the Republic of Cameroon
Photo by Cedric Favero
On the occasion of the 16th Session of the United Nations (UN) Universal Periodic Review (UPR), UNPO has submitted two reports denouncing the human rights violations in Bangladesh and The Republic of Cameroon. Despite their international responsibilities, these States have failed to protect and promote fundamental human rights and freedoms of minority groups and indigenous people. Throughout the UPR procedure, a UN mechanism in which all UN States come under a general review of their human rights record, States and civil society organizations highlight the situation of human rights and issue recommendations to the ”State under Review (SuR)” to improve its human rights practice.
UNPO’s recent UPR submissions highlighted several major issues which affect the communities in Bangladesh and The Republic of Cameroon.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts is a region situated in the southeast corner of Bangladesh, home to a majority indigenous population. Over the years, government intervention, social marginalization and the increasing number of indigenous people’s settlements have given rise to a series of disagreements among the government and the native people. The clashes were the cause of severe human rights violations, including murder, torture and rape. In 1997 a “Peace Accord” was signed between the Bangladeshi Government and the United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. It introduced a policy of appeasement in an attempt to bring the hostilities to an end. However, 15 years into the accord and land disputes are still a reality in the region. As a result major violations of basic human rights and freedom are frequent.. The UNPO’s report introduces a series of recommendations to be presented to the Bangladeshi government at the 16th Session of the UPR procedure. Amongst others, the report urges the government to consider the following recommendations:
- Implement the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord;
- Adopt constructive policies to guarantee indigenous peoples their traditional land rights, offering them protection against the practice of land grabbing and the destruction of their property;
- Take further measures to bring to justice the perpetrators of forced evictions, attacks, murder, and rape against indigenous communities as well as investigate and prosecute the severe cases of violence committed against indigenous people.
The Republic of Cameroon has continuously denied that the people of Southern Cameroons enjoy distinctive political, economic or cultural characteristics. The State usually ignores the historical context which led to the integration of the region into the country, resulting in a lack of representation of Southern Cameroonians in the political and cultural life. The People from Southern Cameroons are deprived of any control over their own affairs, both at the political level and in the use of their resources. Moreover, language discrimination in education as well as in hiring procedures leads to an underrepresentation of Southern Cameroonians in job positions.
The Republic of Cameroon has repeatedly violated the freedom of assembly and association of Southern Cameroonians. The government security forces very often harass and disrupt the meeting of any group advocating for a higher level of autonomy in the region. The Southern Cameroons National Council (SCNC) is particularly targeted by the government because of its views on the status of the region. Despite the fact that freedom of assembly and association are guaranteed by the Constitution, the government claims that any SCNC meeting is illegal on the grounds that any activity related to autonomy or secession is prohibited. UNPO has therefore urged the Republic of Cameroon authorities to consider the following recommendations:
- Enter into dialogue with Southern Cameroons political groups in order to improve relations;
- Recognize that Southern Cameroonians represent a people with distinct political, economic, and cultural characteristics;
- Meet the international obligation under Articles 1, 21, 22, 25 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
During the months of April and May 2013, the UNPO reports will be examined at the 16th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. As the process enters its second cycle, the status of recommendation implementation, including the creation of specific bodies as well as National Plans of Action and the presence of Stakeholders will be assessed.
Please find each of the full reports for download.