By Boris Esono Nwenfor and Ngunyi Sonita
The three-day seminar organized by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, in collaboration with the REDHAC and The British High Commission Yaounde saw lawyers being trained from the South West and North West Regions. The seminar that ran from March 23 to March 25 in Buea involved some 75 lawyers from these two regions.
Emphasizing collaboration, the participants have been reminded of the power of unity among themselves to be able to strategically litigate cases in court. Gaby Ambo, Executive Director of Finders Group Initiative, FGI, said lawyers should not be money-minded but rather think of “our to help their societies and the fight for the rights of the population whose rights are have been violated.”
“What next is for these lawyers to strategize strategically; for them to think strategically on how to strategically litigate, how to put the victims at the centre of their litigation how to protect and promote human rights and how they should be professional in the way they articulate human rights violations,” Barrister Felix Agbor Balla told Pan African Visions at the end of what he says was an enriching seminar for all the lawyers.
“We intend to do further training for trainers; we have two workshops in April (one in the South West and the other in the North West) and two workshops again in May. We want to put these lawyers at the centre of strategic litigation in the country. It is a concept of principle that is not known; some of them have been doing strategic litigation without using the word strategic litigation.”
Barrister Balla added: “We want them to know is that if we follow what happened in the civil rights movement in the US and other areas, they will be able to strategically litigate and be the voice of the voiceless; those who speak for the under-privilege, the marginalized, the suppressed and the oppressed masses. It is incumbent on them to be well-grounded in strategic litigation to know the pitfalls, how important it is and to prepare when they want to carry out strategic litigation.”
Modules during the session included an overview of the concept of human rights; an overview of the concept of strategic litigation (general principle and methods); a panel discussion on the Regional System and Application of Key Human Rights Treaties and Procedure for Litigation at a regional level.
The lawyers were also schooled on implementing cases of the African Commission and court; a panel discussion on the UN System; strategic litigation 1 (before the National Courts/Institutions) while the last day focused on strategic litigation II (before the National Courts/Institutions) and redress mechanisms at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights for Victims of Torture in Cameroon.
The lawyers have thus taken a resolution to implement the aspects taught to them in their various areas of residence to better serve the population at hand. Ebini Agnes of Liberty Law Firm said the seminar on strategic litigation was very timely and important. She said: “When it has to do with human rights I take interest in it generally. Strategic litigation is not something common with the kind of litigations we do in our courts. We now know that there are different strategies when it comes to carrying out strategic litigation,” She said.
CHRDA is a civil society, Human Rights and Humanitarian Organization whose mission is to enhance the protection and respect for human rights and democracy, good governance, network to improve human rights situation, humanitarian response to survivors of catastrophes including armed conflicts and keep violations/abuses to a minimum, and encourage ratification of international treaties and agreements related to human rights and the rule of law.