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Cameroon[1] [print]

Last edited: December 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

Cameroon ratified the CRC in 1993, which, according to the constitution of Cameroon, gave the CRC full precedence over national laws. Similarly, the country adopted the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and thus gave it full legal force.

 

Cameroon does not appear to have provisions that mandate the hearing of the child's voice in court proceedings. In its concluding observations in 2001, the Committee on the Rights of the Child encouraged Cameroon to further promote the implementation of Article 12.[2] The CRC report of the same year for Cameroon explained that the views of children are often taken into account either directly or through a parent, guardian, or legal representative in legal and administrative proceedings such as in questions of custody during divorce and separation proceedings, in marriage, and in hearings in the Council Chamber.[3] There are, however, no provisions that mandate hearing children in proceedings of a protective nature. Several measures were taken to increase children's participation in political matters, such as two pilot meetings of a Children's Parliament in 1998 and 1999 through which children could ask questions on issues such as education, health, and action to combat corruption and street children;[4] the country is currently studying the institutionalization of this forum to allow for better expression of children's views.[5] Cameroon's 2001 CRC report also pointed out that efforts to guarantee respect for the views of children face obstacles due to the gerontocratic tradition of Cameroon in which children are only regarded as human beings in the making until they reach maturity.[6]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant [7]

 

Article 12

1. Les Etats parties garantissent à l'enfant qui est capable de discernement le droit d'exprimer librement son opinion sur toute question l'intéressant, les opinions de l'enfant étant dûment prises en considération eu égard à son âge et à son degré de maturité.

2. A cette fin, on donnera notamment à l'enfant la possibilité d'être entendu dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative l'intéressant, soit directement, soit par l'intermédiaire d'un représentant ou d'une organisation approprié, de façon compatible avec les règles de procédure de la législation nationale.

 

Regional Agreements

 

Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bein-etre de l'Enfant[8]

 

Article 4.  Interet Superieur de L'Enfant

1. Dans toute action concernant un enfant, entreprise par une quelconque personne ou autorité, l'intérêt de supérieur l'enfant sera la consideration primordiale.

2. Dans toute procédure judiciaire ou administrative affectant un enfant qui est capable de communiquer, on fera en sorte que les vues de l'enfant puissent être entendues soit directement, soit par le truchement d'un représentant impartial qui prendra part à la procédure, et ses vues seront prises en considération par l'autorité compétente, conformément aux dispositions des lois applicables en la matière.

 

Article 7.  Liberte d'Expression

Tout enfant qui est capable de communiquer se verra garantir le droit d'exprimer ses opinions librement dans tous les domaines et de faire connaître ses opinions, sous réserve des restrictions prévues par la loi.

 

Translation

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child[9]

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

 

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Regional Agreements

 

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child[10] 

 

Article 4.  Best Interests of the Child

 

1. In all actions concerning the child undertaken by any person or authority the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration.

2. In all judicial or administrative proceedings affecting a child who is capable of communicating his/her own views, an opportunity shall be provided for the views of the child to be heard either directly or through an impartial representative as a party to the proceedings, and those views shall be taken into consideration by the relevant authority in accordance with the provisions of appropriate law.

 

Article 7: Freedom of Expression

Every child who is capable of communicating his or her own views shall be assured the rights to express his opinions freely in all matters and to disseminate his opinions subject to such restrictions as are prescribed by laws.

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Coalition Camerounaise des ONG pour les Droits de l'Enfant (COCADE) - Cameroon Coalition for the Rights of Children

http://www.crin.org/organisations/viewOrg.asp?ID=131&name=Coalition

+Camerounaise+des+ONG+pour+les+Droits+de+l'Enfant++(COCADE

 

UNICEF Cameroon

http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cameroon.html

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Cameroon, ¶ 31, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.164 (Nov. 6, 2001), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/e5e153b9d7119284c1256ae9004d3bc0?Opendocument.

[3] Committee on the Rights of the Child, Initial Reports of States Parties Due in 1995, Addendum: Cameroon, 23, U.N. Doc CRC/C/28/Add. 16 (Mar. 26, 2001), available at http://www.bayefsky.com/reports/cameroon_crc_c_28_add.16_2000.doc.

[4] Id. at 24.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Convention relative aux droits de l'enfant, G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989), available at http://www.ohchr.org/french/law/crc.htm.

[8] Charte Africaine des Droits et du Bien-etre de l'Enfant, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49 available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

[9] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 12, Dec. 12, 1989, UN General Assembly Document A/RES/44/25, available at http://www.ohchr.org/english/law/crc.htm.

[10] African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, opened for signature July 11, 1990, OAU Doc. CAB/LEG/24.9/49, available at http://www.africa-union.org/.

 

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