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Cameroon human rights activists focus on Covid-19

The challenges posed by Covid-19 were the focus of Cameroon’s sixth annual Human Rights Defenders Day, held each year on July 15.

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Human rights defenders relax after the July 15 panel discussion / press conference about the effects of Covid-19 on human rights in Cameroon. (Photo by Courtney Stans)

By Courtney Stans

The sixth annual Human Rights Defenders Day in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé, featured advocacy aimed at the country’s decision-makers and extensive news coverage.

Its main theme was “the human rights defender facing the new challenge: Covid 19”.

The event’s sponsor was the legal advocacy organization Défenseurs Sans Frontières (Defenders Without Borders).

In connection with the event, a workshop drafted a petition to decision-makers seeking legal recognition of the work of  human rights defenders. The group also worked on developing an advocacy and security plan.

A panel discussion and press conference focused on the effects of Covid-19 on the work of human rights defenders in Cameroon. Participants were instructed to maintain social distancing to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Stéphane Aboa, executive coordinator of Défenseurs Sans Frontières (Defenders Without Borders), interviewed by Equinox TV.

Television, radio and print media attended the day’s activities, producing coverage on Equinox TV and STV, Amplitude FM, Magic FM, Afrique Premier and Mutation.

Many Cameroonian human rights organizations were represented, notably Alternatives-Cameroon, CAMFAIDS, Humanity First Cameroon, Affirmative Action, Sourire de Femmes, ASCAUPEV, EMPOWER Cameroon, RENATA and CNDHL.

The secretary general of the National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms proclaimed the commission’s support for the initiative and praised the work of human rights defenders in Cameroon.  A petition that many participants signed during the panel discussion endorsed the work of human rights activists.

The day even included a recreational outing for human rights defenders so they could relax from the stresses of their daily work.

Human Rights Defenders Day is held every July 15 in commemoration of the murder of Cameroonian journalist and activist Eric Ohena Lembembe on July 15, 2013..

Panel discussion on July 15 focused on Covid-19 and human rights defenders. (Photo by Courtney Stans)

Courtney Stans, the author of this article, is a Cameroonian journalist who writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at [email protected].