By Peterkins Manyong, The Post Newspaper
The Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy, CHRAPA, has said at a press conference in Bamenda that human rights groups should begin punishing perpetrators of child labour and child trafficking.
Presided at by Thomas Tayong Mbakwa, the organisers of the press conference were unanimous that enough preaching and sensitisation had already been done on the twin vices.
“It is a pity that animals and trees are more the concern of Cameroonian authorities than man, the beneficiary from these things,” lamented CHRAPA Director, Joseph Chongsi.
Chongsi was equally vexed that the media, lawyers and MPs see in music and book piracy more criminality than the shabby treatment of humans.He was, however, grateful that on December 29, 2005, Parliament passed a law, which the Head of State promulgated into law prescribing long imprisonment terms and heavy fines for defaulters.
“It is time for this law to be implemented. Applauding the announcement, some of Chongsi’s colleagues said they had already begun investigating the vices.On the origin of child trafficking, Chongsi said it was an old practice, which has taken root in Cameroon because of government’s economic policy that has rendered Cameroonians both poor and miserable.
These include the Structural Adjustment Plan and the struggle to reach the HIPC Initiative, which led to the closure of many parastatals and other government services.
Chongsi disclosed that the Northwest is notorious in the practice because it is from there that hundreds of children are taken every year to big towns like Douala and Yaounde where they serve as barmen, barmaids, domestic servants and store keepers.
What is bad about child labour, he said, is the fact that the meagre amount, sometimes as low as FCFA 5.000 promised, is either not paid or given to the parents or guardians of the children.
Some of the children are promised apprenticeship, which never comes. The result is that some of the children run away and end up as bandits and prostitutes.The Mezam Delegate of Social Affairs attributed child trafficking and child labour more to ignorance and parental irresponsibility than to poverty
The participants appreciated the efforts of one Mrs. Elizabeth Lah, Chief Executive Officer of Noah’s Ark, a Bamenda-based philanthropic organisation who has already withdrawn over 100 children from coffee farms in Boyo and sent them to school.
The National Commission for Human Rights and Freedoms was represented by Nelson Ndi, its Northwest Coordinator.