For every victim of torture there is a person forever altered. On the international day in support of victims of torture, Contra Nocendi wish to express our support once again for survivors of torture and their right to reparations and rehabilitation.
The prohibition of torture is absolute. There are no circumstances in which it may be acceptable to subject another human being to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Where human rights instruments can differ in how some rights are to be understood or prioritized, they all agree that torture is one of the most serious violations of human dignity and therefore prohibited, always and with no exceptions. Despite this consensus, torture remains a serious issue, and it takes many forms.
Contra Nocendi Cameroon have first-hand observations of the situation in detention centres in Cameroon, where severe overcrowding has created unbearable living conditions for the inmates. We have also provided legal representation to pre-trial detainees that showed evidence of being subjected to torture. The living situation has become so poor that this in itself may amount to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment. The issue of overcrowding has become even more urgent during the covid-19 pandemic. Although action was taken to reduce the number of persons in detention, the centres are still overcrowded. There is much more to be done for the detention conditions to be humane. Contra Nocendi will continue to monitor the situation in detention and fight for humane detention conditions.
UN human rights bodies have repeatedly expressed concern over reports of violence perpetrated by the police in pretrial detention in Cameroon, including reports concerning violence against children in detention. Violence perpetrated by police during interrogations and pretrial detention should always be investigated and prosecuted, as it may amount to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. We have yet to see a true determination to end impunity for such crimes.
Survivors of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment have a right to rehabilitation and reparations for what happened to them. The Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa adopted by the African Commission in 2002 underlines that the right to reparation from the state exists regardless if there is a successful criminal prosecution or not. Contra Nocendi contributed with our views during the consultation in preparation of the general comment no. 4: The Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment adopted by the African Commission in 2017. The general comment states that “Reparation includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction - including the right to the truth, and guarantees of nonrepetition.” This right is central for survivors to have a chance to heal and move forward.
Contra Nocendi calls on all countries to respect international and regional standards and fight to eradicate torture in all its forms. We call on Cameroon and all states in Africa to support and fully implement the above-mentioned guidelines to prevent torture and offer rehabilitation and compensation for the survivors.
Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon will continue our work against torture in all its forms. We remain deeply committed in our support to victims of torture and will continue to monitor the situation closely.