An analysis of legislative and institutional frameworks governing the rights of indigenous peoples in Cameroon
Njieassam, Effundem Esther
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This thesis critically examines the legislative and institutional framework governing the rights of indigenous peoples in Cameroon. The study specifically investigates and explicates on selected political, economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. In so doing, the study expounds that indigenous communities in Cameroon encounter persistent forms of historic injustices including endemic marginalisation, systemic discrimination, subjugation, seclusion and stigmatisation from the larger society. They are also excluded from participating in the governance structure of the country, including decision-making processes particularly on issues that directly affect them, their livelihoods and environment. This study reveals that the protracted challenges indigenous peoples face daily is attributed to the lack of legal recognition as a distinct group with specific rights. This has resulted in massive loss of ancestral lands and excessive exploitation of natural resources within their territories. These extractive activities have rendered indigenous communities destitute, with no basic socio-economic services such as education, effective health care facilities, adequate housing, including social security services and inability to efficiently participate in the political affairs of the country. Thus, it is submitted that the prolonged challenges confronting indigenous peoples in Cameroon call for a critical analysis of the human rights situation of indigenous peoples in other jurisdictions, to assess the degree of neglect, recognition and violations of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. This study adopted a qualitative research method, complemented by unstructured interviews using aide memoirs with specific officials, non-governmental organisations, civil society, human rights institutions as well as relevant Ministries in the country concerned with promoting and protecting the human rights of indigenous peoples. The legal comparative research technique, including an historic component, has also played a significant role in this study. This thesis suggests practical policies that must be adopted and implemented to ensure that indigenous peoples are granted official and legal recognition they deserve, such that the human rights abuses perpetrated against them are brought to a halt. It also establishes a system of accountability, transparency, participative democracy, equality and rule of law, which are vital elements of good inclusive governance.
- Law