The Extent To Which The Laws Protect The Pretrial Rights Of Detainees In Cameroon (Buea Case)

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

 The Extent To Which The Laws Protect The Pretrial Rights Of Detainees In Cameroon (Buea Case)

Department: Law
No of Pages: 44
Project Code: Law1
References: Yes
Cost: 5,000XAF Cameroonian
        : $15 for International students


1.1 Background To The Study

In numerous countries   Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mali, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda, Uruguay and Venezuela, unsentenced prisoners make up the majority of the prison population. Such detainees may in many instances be held for years before being judged not guilty of the crime with which they were charged.

They may even be imprisoned for periods longer than the sentences they would have served had they been found guilty. This state of affairs not only violates fundamental human rights norms, it contributes significantly to prison overcrowding, a problem that is itself at the root of numerous additional abuses.

The lengthy detention of unsentenced prisoners has its origins in two common phenomena: the denial of pretrial release to criminal defendants, and the excessive duration of criminal proceedings. Both of these ingredients in themselves violate international human rights norms, but combined together they constitute a grievous affront to justice.

Consistent with the presumption of innocence, defendants should normally be granted release pending trial. Articulating this principle, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides in relevant part that: "It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial."  In interpreting this provision, the U.N. Human Rights Committee has ruled that detention before trial should be used only to the extent it is lawful, reasonable, and necessary.

Necessity is defined narrowly: “to prevent flight, interference with evidence or the recurrence of crime” or “where the person concerned constitutes a clear and serious threat to society which cannot be contained in any other manner.” (1) The weighing of the relevant criteria for a finding of necessity requires an individualized determination.

The laws of many countries, either as they are written or as they are applied, do not satisfy these criteria. Some countries simply lack a mechanism for granting pretrial release. In other countries, large categories of prisoners such as persons charged with drug crimes or crimes of violence, or recidivists may be disqualified from obtaining relief under the terms of provisional liberty laws. Pre-trial detention remains a problem around the world. There are now close to three million pretrial detainees globally.

In such countries, accordingly, the large majority of pretrial detainees may not be eligible for provisional release. Moreover, judges are often hostile to the idea of pretrial release, leading them to refuse to apply provisional liberty laws even to eligible defendants.

Particularly when defendants are detained, the long delays associated with criminal trials in many countries are also inconsistent with international human rights norms. Such delays violate two provisions of the ICCPR, Articles 9(3) and 14(3)(c), which prohibit unreasonably protracted criminal proceedings. Although the U.N. Human Rights Committee has emphasized that long criminal proceedings must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Since 1991 the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (SPT), have repeatedly criticized restrictions and isolation. 

Despite all the critique countries have been reluctant to make any change. One of the main issues with their regulation on detention and arrest is the lack of a maximum time limit for detention and the imposition of restrictions. Long detention periods in combination with full restrictions are equivalent to isolation. 

The conditions of detention are at risk of reaching the level of inhuman or degrading treatment established in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).  Restrictions must be imposed restrictively according to the principle of proportionality.

 The Cameroon state security officers, comprising the gendarmerie, police and army are committing serious violations of rights of pre-trial detainees in breach of International    Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant Against Torture, the UN Basic principles on the use of Force and Fire arms and the African charter on Human and people Rights (ACHPR) as well as other international and regional human rights instruction such as Robben Island guide lines, police

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

The research problem is based in the violation of pretrial rights of detainees.

Therefore, the research interns to know what accounts for such violation and non-compliance.

1.3 Research Questions

1.3.1 Main Research Question

How does the law protect the pretrial rights of detainees in Cameroon? (Buea Case)

1.3.2 Specific Research Questions

  1. What is the legal framework for the protection of pretrial rights of detainees?
  2. What are the various pretrial rights of detainees?
  3. How effective are those laws protecting pretrial rights of detainees?