As Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon mark World Children’s Day and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we are deeply concerned about the right to access to justice for children. Our work in Cameroon has brought to light examples of how children are denied their right to counsel, right to a fair trial and their right to not be arbitrarily detained.
The issue of access to justice for children in Cameroon has been recently highlighted before the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. In the recent case of TFA v Cameroon, the Committee underlined that while the rule of exhaustion of local remedies, which is required to seek redress before a regional human rights body in Africa, exists in order to allow for states to address violations first, action may not be unduly prolonged. The Committee argued that this exception to the rule of exhaustion is especially important when it comes to human rights violations involving children, “more than any other group of human beings”. We agree with the Committee and will be shortly be releasing more information regarding access to justice for children in Cameroon.
Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon have been providing legal aid to a 16 year old in the Southwest region of Cameroon who was arrested two years ago without charge. Our client suffered through a similar issue of prolonged administrative silence that has forced our client to spend his 15th and 16th birthdays behind bars without being formally charged and despite a petition for writ of habeas corpus being filed months ago. In the coming days, Contra Nocendi Cameroon and Contra Nocendi International will be releasing more information about our client as part of our efforts to secure his release from arbitrary and unlawful pre-trial detention.
As we mark this World Children’s Day, we urge everyone to make the issue of access to justice for children in Cameroon a dire issue. Help us make sure more children are not denied their liberty and due process.