Contra Nocendi stands up for the rights of victims on the first International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism

On the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism, we at Contra Nocendi take a moment to remember all the people who are struggling to get their voices heard after being harmed and violated by terrorist attacks around the world. The international day is being marked for the first time in 2018.  

The United Nations has recognized August 21 as the annual day to remember the victims of terrorism in five of its Member States Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria.  

Terrorism is one of the most gruesome and difficult issue that the world is facing currently. Not only is it posing a threat to world peace, it is destroying millions of lives around the world with the growing number of attacks. The UN has recognized that victims of terrorism find themselves forgotten and neglected and, their voices ignored as soon as the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack passes. Such neglect has deep consequences for the victims, who have several medium and long-term needs that must be met in order to completely recover and get back to being part of the society.  

On this day, Contra Nocendi Cameroon and Contra Nocendi International recognize the needs of terrorism victims and the support they require to recover physically, emotionally, socially and financially to heal and live a life of dignity. Contra Nocendi also upholds the human rights of the victims and supports all stakeholders working toward promoting, protecting and respecting their rights.  

According to the UN’s sixth review resolution, it is important to build the resilience of victims and their families by providing them with support and assistance immediately after a terrorist attack. This is a very important step in the long term, to recognize that resilient victims are less vulnerable to attacks and could heal and recover sooner after suffering an attack.  

At Contra Nocendi, we recognize and support all the needs of terrorism victims and stand in solidarity with them and their families and all communities that are plagued with wars and violence globally.  

Contra Nocendi marks World Humanitarian Day

Contra Nocendi Cameroon and Contra Nocendi International stand up to take note of World Humanitarian Day. The day signifies the great work and contributions made by aid workers who risk their lives in pursuit of humanitarian services and garner support for people suffering in crisis situations and crossfires around the world.  

Contra Nocendi also endorses the campaign theme for this year’s World Humanitarian Day, which is the #NotATarget movement, whereby world leaders are being urged to do their best to protect civilians caught in armed conflicts around the world.   

While marking this important day, the United Nations also draws attention to people living in cities and towns who don’t have access to food, water and a roof over their heads because of the fighting going on in their regions, because of which they are also displaced from their homes. War situations are badly affecting women and children in several countries, with children being recruited to fight and women being assaulted and humiliated endlessly. When humanitarian workers try to deliver help in the form of aid and medical workers tend to the wounded and sick they face threats, and are not allowed to bring relief to the badly affected victims.  

Workers in such regions, against all odds, struggle to provide aid to those in need. But they continue to suffer from violence and attacks and we acknowledge their sacrifice on this important day.  

Contra Nocendi stands up to support these workers trying their best to alleviate the pains of victims in conflict zones globally, as they put their lives on line to help fellow human beings. We stand up not only for civilians, but also for people with disabilities, migrants, journalists and the elderly too.  

On this day, we also call on the global community, especially leaders to protect and safeguard the interests of people caught in armed conflict, and we would like to assert that civilians are #NotATarget.  

Contra Nocendi submits joint letter on draft guidelines on right to water in Africa

Contra Nocendi International and its independent section, Contra Nocendi Cameroon, have submitted a joint letter expressing their collective views on the Draft Guidelines on the Right to Water in Africa. The Draft Guidelines, which are the result of extensive consultations conducted by the  African Commission’s Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa, are a needed effort to bring greater clarity on the law in relation to the right to water in Africa.


The joint letter focused on expressing the need for greater clarity on the issue of access to water for vulnerable groups and rights-based approaches to the right to water. Contra Nocendi re-iterated its stance on the inclusion of the respect of sexual orientation and gender identity expression as an indispensable part of the prohibition of discrimination. While noting the lack of expressed inclusion of SOGIE rights in the Draft Guidelines, CNI and CNC praised the collective leadership on SOGIE rights on the part of the Commission and its mandate holders, and encourage this brave leadership to continue and be included on the issue of the right to water.


Contra Nocendi also expressed its continuing gratitude towards the Commission and its mandate holders for continuing to provide public consultations on such matters. CNI and CNC also continued to re-iterate their continued support of the Commission and collective respect for their efforts in promoting the practical effectiveness of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Contra Nocendi marks international day in support of victims of torture

As we mark the international day in support of victims of torture, We at Contra Nocendi International and Contra Nocendi Cameroon wish to re-iterate our support for victims of torture. Both organisations have vigorously supported victims of torture while advocating for more steps to be taken to prevent torture and more steps to be taken to hold perpetrators of torture accountable. This is a fight we will continue and do so with pride.


Earlier this year, Contra Nocendi Cameroon staff were involved in an intervention to help a minor held in pre-trial detention in Buea. The young man showed signs of physical trauma that truly troubled our experienced lawyers, but unfortunately CN Cameroon’s staff have seen issues like this before. His suffering was such that he was transferred from detention to a hospital. While we are unbelievably proud that the intervention led to the release of this young man, he should have never be exposed to such torture in the first place.


As part of the Universal Periodic Review for Cameroon, Contra Nocendi Cameroon and Contra Nocendi International called on the government of Cameroon to establish an independent mechanism for the prevention of torture. We will continue to push the government of Cameroon to take active steps to provide practical and durable protections against torture.


On this day, we tell all victims of torture that we hear you and we will continue to fight for you.

Innocent Cameroonian man walks free from prison with Contra Nocendi's legal aid

After two years of living in inhuman and deprived conditions in a Cameroonian prison, 24-year-old Beng Pascal Ngong became free after repeated interventions by lawyers from Contra Nocendi Cameroon.

On September 28 2015, Beng was arrested for allegedly not possessing a national identity card, an allegation that a lot of youth in Cameroon are being baselessly arrested for. At the time of the arrest, he was working as an unskilled laborer in a saw mill to support his family. Given their underprivileged background, his family could not afford to send him to school. This prompted Beng to move to Buea to stay with his aunt in early 2011 here he later started to work at the saw mill. Beng grew up in the north west region of Cameroon with his family as one of nine children.

On that day in September 2015, the police was tipped off by Beng's boss who was not willing to pay his monthly dues. When Beng confronted his boss about this and asked for the stipend that was due to him the latter called the police who immediately threw Beng behind bars.

He had since been in detention at the Buea Central Prison for a total duration of over two years. Beng has never seen the insides of a courthouse nor had the chance to get legal aid from a lawyer who can represent him in court, until Contra Nocendi happened to find out about him. Contra Nocendi's lawyers were interacting with some other detainees when they found out that Beng had been languishing in the very same detention center, completely helpless without access to help. He had also not had a single family member visit him since the start of his detention.

After several attempts by Contra Nocendi to get in touch with his family, which was in vain, we finally met his uncle who lives in Buea. Meanwhile, the court held Beng under arrest for not possessing a national identity card under which a person can be imprisoned for three months to a year and/or with a fine between 50,000 and 100,000 francs. The sad reality is that Beng was actually held under arrest for almost double the normal duration of a sentence for such an offense. Had he been convicted, he would have already been released too.

Contra Nocendi decided to fight for Beng and the two lawyers filed a habeas corpus at the Fako High Court highlighting that his detention was arbitrary, illegal and in gross violation of his fundamental human rights. With repeated visits by the lawyers and mounting pressure to look into Beng's unfair detention, the court finally decided to set him free.

Cases of lengthy pretrial detentions such as Beng's are becoming increasingly common among the youth in Cameroon and in most instances the charges are untrue and have no basis. Contra Nocendi has raised this issue several times with the United Nations Human Rights Committee's Universal Periodic Review workgroup. The review states that Cameroon needs to look into ending the practice of arbitrarily arresting, torturing and illegally detaining citizens. Contra Nocendi also highlighted in its joint submission to this report that many Cameroonians are being arbitrarily

arrested and held in horrifying conditions in detention centres, and that Cameroon needs to work closely with the judicial system to make sure that detention periods are not excessive.

Conditions in the detention centres are also highly deplorable, and Contra Nocendi has repeatedly raised concerns about it before, along with a recent investigation that revealed the poor conditions in which detainees are kept in these places.

We will continue to fight for Cameroonian youth like Beng who cannot afford legal counsel and have absolutely no access to any external help, are forgotten by their own state and are forced to suffer in detention centres for prolonged periods of time.

Can justice be obtained for Burundi?

Can justice be obtained for Burundians? 



Is the situation known?


The human rights situation in Burundi continues to worsen year after year since 2015. There are more and more violations and most of them are being reported on by international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Human Rights Watch[i], or more recently Amnesty International[ii]. The latest report drafted by the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi set up by the UN Human Rights Council[iii] highlights many cases and types of violations of human rights. Notably, we have seen raising concerns regarding gross human rights violations such as gross violations, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and incarcerations, forced disappearance, various types of torture and ill treatments, and incidences of sexual assault. More than violations, we are talking about crimes against humanity as expressed by the inquiry commission in its report[iv].  The assessment is, of course, the same from human rights defenders, such as Forum National des Femmes, which notices an intensification in the incidences of sexual assault[v] or Association Burundaise pour la Protection des Droits Humains et des Personnes Détenues (APRODH) (Burundian Association for the Promotion of Human Rights and Persons Detained), which states that nothing is changing in the humanitarian situation and fears this will last as long as President Pierre Nkurunziza remains in office[vi]


In addition, more and more countries are communicating on the situation in Burundi. Recently, the spokesperson of the French minister of foreign affairs intervened to condemn the 32-year prison conviction of Germain Rukuki, a Burundian human rights defender, and showed his disarray towards the fundamental rights violations that occur in Burundi[vii]. Contra Nocendi International has also come out strongly to condemn Germain’s case. The United States of America also expressed their concerns regarding the Burundian non-democratic process the government is trying to implement to change the Constitution so that the president can remain in office longer. Along with this statement, the United States specified that the government was not respecting the freedom of expression and association[viii].  


A variety of reports and denunciations of human rights violations happening in the country are being made by diverse actors, states, NGOs and international organizations. However, despite all these reports, there are very few cases where these violations are followed up with legal proceedings –at the national, regional, or international levels. How can this be explained? 


Why is more not being done? 


Although there is very little existing data on this subject in Burundi, the near non-existence of legal proceedings at the national level can explained very easily. Indeed, in relations to the current situation in the country, lawyers are being threatened and put under a lot of pressure when they take on cases involving human rights violations committed by the government[ix]. In January 2017, four human rights lawyers were disbarred from the Burundian bar for having submitted an alternative report to the UN Committee Against Torture[x]. Many organsations, including Contra Nocendi International, have submitted reports to UN Human Rights bodies. This avenue of engagement is a vital part of the UN human rights system. Moreover, and as explained in the report by the commission of inquiry, even if some cases are brought to court, no follow up is given to them. As a lawyer stated, “it is a justice held hostage[xi].” This sheds a light on the lack of legal proceedings against human rights violations at the national level: the system is such that no resort is allowed on this base. Indeed, as mentioned in a previous Contra Nocendi International article[xii], both the legal and law enforcement systems in Burundi are susceptible to corruption and its negative consequences. Consequently, this explains the lack of legal proceedings in the country. This is of course in line with what is currently occurring in the country: perpetrators continue to commit human rights violations, and in order to protect and continue perpetuating these acts, justice is being manipulated.  


At the regional and international levels, individual communication processes are put in place to facilitate the denunciation of abuses and violations of rights protected by a specific Convention to which the state is party. The main scope of these processes is to allow for accountability of countries to their citizens, and give a voice to victims of human rights violations. This process is particularly important for countries such as Burundi, because the abused people do not have to go through their government. Complaints made by States only exist in rare cases because countries prefer to “sort their conflicts outside of international bodies”[xiii]. The fear of developing tensed bilateral relationships is also a reason why inter-state complaints are scarce. 


At the regional level, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the Commission) is the main mechanism when it comes to the promotion and protection of human rights. The individual communications represent an important part of the commission’s work. However, the conditions of admissibility of these communications are numerous, which can make it challenging to seek help from the Commission. The most difficult condition to subvert is the fact that the Commission is a last resort, and can only be seized once all national remedies have been exhausted[xiv]. Hence, numerous individual communications are not followed after. 


Internationally speaking, it is the system of the United Nations for the promotion and the protection of human rights that is the main organ in charge of human rights. Very little data exists on the subject, as all individual communications as well as the concerned parties can choose to keep the latter confidential, which is often what is done[xv]. Hence, it is complicated to assert if there have been a lot of reported cases at the international level. Nonetheless, it is still important to note that since 2015, the UN has been very closely following and monitoring the human right situation in Burundi, with ultimately the creation of the inquiry commission to this effect in 2016. Following this report of inquiry, the International Criminal Court has been seized to carry out its own investigation and prosecute the persons responsible for these crimes.  


On all levels, most violations of human rights are not reported by Burundians due to fear of reprisals or lack of trust in the system. Indeed, Burundians are afraid to expose their own situation, either from shame of what happened to them or from fear of counterattacks or danger to their families, or their own lives. 


The situation in Burundi is alarming, and the ever-increasing global acknowledgment from the international community on all levels is reassuring. The role of the civil society on the field is non-negligible in the specific case of Burundi, especially when the country makes it extremely difficult for international civil entities to enter its territory. Consequently, it is important to support these domestic or border-zone entities, in order to facilitate the processes of access to the justice system and show to the Burundian population that they are not left behind and that their voices matter. The international community also has the means to bring about this support and to show that it is on board with what it communicates. [xvi]





[iii] Rapport final détaillé de la Commission d’enquête sur le Burundi, Conseil des Droits de l’Homme, trente-sixième session, 11-19 septembre 2017

[iv] id.

[v] .











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