afrol News, 11 June - Albert Mukong, the Cameroonian journalist and human rights activist who took his case to the UN Human Rights Committee, has been given a cheque of US$ 137,000 by the Cameroon Government in compensation for the abuses he suffered at the hands of the authorities.
The Human Rights Committee found in 1994 that his rights to liberty and security of person and freedom of expression had been violated. The Committee thus stated that it found that Mr Mukong had been "subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, in violation of article 7 of the Covenant and that there was also a violation of article 19, the right to freedom of expression, since the restrictions on Mr Mukong, although provided for by law, were not necessary for the safeguard of national security and/or public order."
Article 19, an organisation campaigning for the freedom of expression, has been acting as Mr Mukong's counsel. Andrew Puddephatt, Executive Director of the organisation, said: "We congratulate the Cameroon Government for compensating Mr Mukong and, in complying with the decision of the UN Human Rights Committee, reaffirming the principle that governments are responsible for past human rights violations committed by the state."
Albert Mukong is a journalist, writer and long-time opponent of the one-party system in Cameroon who brought his case to the UN Human Rights Committee, protesting his arrest and detention without warrant in 1988 and 1990. His book, Prisoner Without a Crime, was banned. The book described his detention in local jails between 1970 and 1976.
He left Cameroon in the summer of 1990, and in October of that year applied for asylum in the UK, having been warned that he would face immediate re-arrest if he returned to Cameroon. He now lives in Cameroon.
The UN Human Rights Committee recommended in 1994 that Mr Mukong be compensated, noting that when he was in detention he was "singled out for exceptionally harsh and degrading treatment", including being kept detained incommunicado, threatened with torture and death and intimidated, deprived of food, and kept locked in his cell for several days on end.
Commenting on the defence, which the Cameroon Government had set out, the Committee stated that "the legitimate objective of safeguarding and indeed strengthening national unity under difficult circumstances cannot be achieved by attempting to muzzle advocacy of multi-party democracy, democratic tenets and human rights."
In a report titled 'Hollow Promises: Freedom of Expression in Cameroon Since 1995', Article 19 describes the Cameroon government as "a serious and persistent violator" of the civil and political rights of its citizens. The organisation says it "believes that Cameroon's human rights record since 1995 leaves no room for equivocation by the international community."
The organisation's conclusions are sustained by other independent reports, including US government sources, Amnesty International and the Cameroonian opposition.