The main objective of the seed grant was to provide support to fellows for the purpose of undertaking an action that will impact their community and bring about positive transformation. The target beneficiaries of the project are more than 70 young offenders in Buea and Kumba prisons. The main aim of the project being to facilitate access to justice for young offenders and ease their transfer from the central prison to the reformation centre (Borstal Institute) in collaboration with the regional delegation of social affairs and the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms. In addition, the project also indirectly sensitized Prison administration on human rights issues; suggest mechanisms to monitor prison conditions effectively and ensure accountability in respect of violation of human rights; discuss the problems of prison administration and bring to limelight section 704 of the Cameroon Criminal Procedure Code which states “a minor of 12 to 14 years of age shall not be remanded in custody… and re-enforce Article 40 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights.

This project conducted in Buea and Kumba Central prisons was coordinated by CHRFellows Mr Blaise Chamango.

Buea Central Prison Kumba Central Prison
The team reached out to 38 young offenders in the Buea central prison. The team realised that the number of young offenders has been on the rise since the beginning of the Cameroon Anglophone crisis due to massive arrest and detention.

Working in close collaboration with the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms, we were able to provide free legal assistance in the form of Habeas Corpus, speedy trial, application for bail and application for acquittal to 29 young offenders. Among the 29 young offenders we provided free legal aid to, 11 were released on Habeas corpus while 18 others cases are currently undergoing court process.

The project was more difficult to do at the Kumba Central Prison. There were many bottlenecks as more and more young people are becoming radicalized due to the crisis in South West and North West of Cameroon.  In addition, the justice system in Kumba is more corrupt than that of Buea and the Kumba prison is less receptive to human rights organisations. Nevertheless, we worked with 43 young offenders in the Kumba prison, of the 43 young offenders we touched, 15 were released on bail following habeas corpus applications filed with the Kumba high court. The 28 cases left are still in court process and will take time to be determined. We are currently closely following up all cases.

 

To avoid retribution, we will not be releasing the names or pictures of those we worked with during this project.