The following information reports U.S. government priorities and activities of the U.S. Mission in Cameroon to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Cameroon’s human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government's policy priorities are to promote democratic principles and practices, strengthen democratic institutions, and increase respect for human rights. The United States implements a broad-based approach covering media and civil society to develop those institutions' capacity to support the democratic process in the country. This includes maintaining the fight against corruption as a high priority. The United States targets several key population groups, ranging from high-level government officials to school-age children, to help promote better human rights practices. In addition, the United States maintains as a priority the fight against exploitative labor practices, particularly child trafficking.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
In 2010 the United States continues to focus its activities toward strengthening democratic institutions and respect for democratic practices, including human rights and press freedom. In December 2008 the president of Cameroon created the electoral commission, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), although most of the 12 members were senior officials belonging to the ruling party. The United States publicly criticized the partisan composition of ELECAM, noting its low credibility among the public, and urging the government to ensure that ELECAM function as an independent election commission. The Embassy is engaging ELECAM and the government to encourage reforms to the institution, while at the same time continuing to stress publicly the importance of making ELECAM an independent, effective electoral institution.
In addition, the U.S. Government continues to strengthen democratic institutions and respect for human rights by engaging members of civil society and the media, officials from all levels of government, and local and international NGOs. For example, the U.S. Ambassador hosted a roundtable on women's rights and a parliamentary lunch to encourage legislative reforms and dialogue. On April 15, the U.S. Embassy publicly launched the Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, addressing a group of local NGOS on the role that organizations like theirs can play in promoting human rights in their communities.
The United States also continues to combat corruption in the country. Through the Democracy and Human Rights Funds (DHRF), the U.S. Government supports a local NGO that conducted a series of seminars and conferences to raise awareness among civil servants and the general public in six of the 10 regions of the country about the ills of corruption. Embassy officers gave public remarks about combating corruption. The embassy will be hosting a regional anticorruption conference and is producing an anticorruption film to be shown in the consular waiting room.
In addition, DHRF also supports sensitization programs on the rights of the child as set forth in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the problem of worst forms of child labor, including child trafficking. The U.S. Government continues to support a program to enhance national capacity in child labor data collection, analysis and dissemination. The embassy also supports a Human Rights Education project in 10 secondary schools in Yaounde. The embassy launched a U.S. Department of Agriculture-supported Food for Education program highlighting the importance of education, especially for girls.
The U.S. Embassy continues to support media freedom through local capacity building and by publicly expressing concerns about reports of restrictions on press freedom and the closure of media outlets.
The U.S. Government continues to press high-level government officials, including the president, about the imperative to respect human rights and punish human rights offenders. To prevent human rights abuses and augment the rule of law in the country, the U.S. Government remains committed to law enforcement and security training for police and gendarmes. The embassy will continue e-IMET programs on civil-military relations and human rights in the military.