60. The Committee considered the second periodic report of Cameroon (CAT/C/17/Add.22) at its 448th, 451st and 454th meetings, held on 20, 21 and 23 November 2000 (CAT/C/SR.448, 451 and 454), and adopted the following conclusions and recommendations.
61. The Committee expresses its appreciation for the submission of the report of Cameroon, which covers the period until the end of 1996. The report, which was submitted seven years late, was prepared in conformity with the guidelines for the preparation of periodic reports.
62. The Committee also expresses its appreciation to the delegation of Cameroon for its professionalism and the diligence with which it provided detailed replies to the questions asked by the Committee, thereby demonstrating the interest taken by the State party in the work of the Committee.
63. The Committee takes note with satisfaction of the following elements:
(a) The remarkable efforts made by the State party to carry out far-reaching reforms of its legislation and practice in order to fulfil its obligations under the Convention;
(b) The agreement to receive the visit of the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, who was able to complete his mission unhindered;
(c) The willingness of the State party to allow International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) inspectors to visit places of detention on their own terms;
(d) The scrupulous respect shown by the courts and political authorities in Cameroon for the State party’s obligations under article 3 of the Convention, thus ensuring that a person was not extradited to a country where he was in danger of being subjected to torture or sentenced to death;
(e) Cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the extradition of some indicted persons to Arusha;
(f) The promise by the representatives of the State party to permit the National Commission on Human Rights to visit detention centres on the terms recommended by the Special Rapporteur;
(g) The State party’s decision to make the declarations provided for in articles 21 and 22 of the Convention;
(h) The initiation of a process for the ratification of the Statute of the International Criminal Court;
(i) The State party’s recent contribution to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
64. The Committee is aware of the range of difficulties experienced by the State party, including those of an economic nature, which have led to a considerable reduction in its financial resources. It nevertheless points out that no exceptional circumstances of any kind can be invoked to justify torture.
65. The Committee is concerned about the following:
(a) The fact that, despite the policy pursued by the Government, torture seems to remain a widespread practice;
(b) The continuing practice of administrative detention, which allows the authorities reporting to or forming part of the executive branch (the Ministry of the Interior) to violate individual liberty, something which, under the rule of law, should come under the jurisdiction of the judiciary;
(c) The gap between the adoption of rules in accordance with human rights standards, including those designed to prevent the practice of torture, and the findings made in situ by an independent entity such as the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, who reports the existence of numerous cases of torture;
(d) The imbalance between the large number of allegations of torture or ill-treatment and the small number of prosecutions and trials;
(e) The absence of legislative provisions for the compensation and rehabilitation of victims of torture, contrary to the provisions of article 14 of the Convention;
(f) The absence of legislative provisions rendering evidence obtained through torture inadmissible, pursuant to article 15 of the Convention;
(g) The fact that security considerations seem to be given precedence over all other matters, including the prohibition of torture;
(h) The maintenance of the prison administration under the authority of the Ministry of the Interior;
(i) The many human rights violations attributable to two special forces, the Operational Command and the Task Force of the National Gendarmerie.
66. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Introduce a mechanism into its legislation for the fullest possible compensation and rehabilitation of the victims of torture;
(b) Introduce provisions into its legislation on the inadmissibility of evidence obtained through torture, except in the case of acts carried out against the perpetrator of torture in order to prove that an act of torture has been committed;
(c) Take advantage of the process of codification already under way to bring Cameroonian legislation into line with the provisions of articles 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Convention;
(d) Ensure the effective implementation of the instructions from the Minister of Justice that pre-trial detention must take place only when absolutely necessary and that provisional release should be the rule, especially since this could help to deal with the problem of prison overcrowding;
(e) Consider transferring responsibility for prison administration from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Justice;
(f) Consider abolishing the special forces established to combat highway robbery, while at the same time lifting the freeze on the recruitment of law enforcement officials;
(g) Pursue energetically any inquires already under way into allegations of human rights violations and, in cases which have yet to be investigated, give the order for prompt and impartial inquiries to be opened and inform the Committee of the results;
(h) Ensure scrupulous respect for the human rights of persons arrested in the context of efforts to combat highway robbery;
(i) Pursue the training programme for law enforcement personnel in human rights, with particular reference to the prohibition of torture;
(j) Consider establishing a regular system to assess the effectiveness of the implementation of legislation on the prohibition of torture, for instance by making the best use of the National Committee on Human Rights and non-governmental human rights organizations;
(k) Scrupulously maintain a registry of detained persons and make it publicly accessible.