Democracy and rights
In recent years, democracy in Cameroon has
weakened from an already bad position. The reasons are
mainly a stepped up conflict between government forces
and separatists in the English-speaking areas since 2017
as well as jihadist attacks in the north. In all
conflicts, all sides are guilty of human rights
The Constitution provides for power sharing,
multiparty systems and protection of human rights, but
in practice none of this works and, according to Freedom
House, the country is not to be considered free.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Cameroon, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The 2018 election, when President Paul Biya was
re-elected for a fifth term, was marked by cheating and
threats. The confidence in the electoral process was
further undermined by the fact that Biya had established
a national council with the right to annul the election
results. The majority of the council members had links
with the Biya government.
Almost all power lies with the president and anyone
who criticizes the government risks being silenced.
Human rights activists, opposition politicians and
regime-critical journalists are routinely harassed. The
opposition is weak and divided.
Freedom of assembly is limited and the scope for
voluntary organizations, which is almost entirely
dependent on foreign money, is limited.
Since the extreme Islamist group Boko Haram began to
raid Cameroon in the 2010s, serious violations of human
rights have become increasingly common. The situation
has been exacerbated by the separatist insurgency in the
English-speaking areas of the southwest and north-west
(see Current Policy).
Human Rights Watch reported in 2019 that government
forces have committed torture and extrajudicial
executions in the conflict with the separatists.
Civilians, including children and disabled people, have
been killed when government forces set fire to their
house. The government has distanced itself from the
violence but failed to convict anyone of the crimes. The
separatists are also guilty of serious abuse.
The protection is also weak for the hundreds of
thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central
African Republic who are in Cameroon. According to Human
Rights Watch, the government soldiers use violence and
torture against the refugees.
The woman's position in politics is weak. Of the
citizens who are registered to vote, only 30 percent are
women. In Parliament, the proportion of female members
is 31 percent. Some ethnic minorities are regularly
excluded from political processes.
Corruption is a serious problem, even though the Biya
government has taken a number of measures against it.
Among other things, an anti-corruption authority has
been set up as well as specialized courts for corruption
cases. Corruption exists in all areas of society. People
pay bribes to get their children into a certain school,
to receive care, to avoid traffic misconduct etc.
Relatively many top officials and high politicians
have been convicted of corruption crimes, but analysts
suspect that political reasons may be behind many of the
cases. President Biya is suspected of having used the
fight against corruption to eliminate political
In 2019, Transparency International ranked Cameroon
as 153rd among 180 countries in its index of corruption
in the world (see full list here). That meant a downward
slide with 23 placements since 2015.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and expression in Cameroon are
on a sloping level according to Reporters Without
Borders, which by 2020 placed the country as 134th out
of 180 countries in its freedom of press index (see the
full list here).
Official censorship does not occur, but the police
harass and imprison government-critical journalists,
leading to self-censorship among reporters.
The law prohibits defamation, which can result in
imprisonment and fines. The government is using this law
to discourage journalists from reporting corruption and
other illegality that politicians are not often
There is also a National Communications Council that
has the power to shut down media and prohibit individual
journalists from working. In a number of cases,
journalists who have written about corruption have lost
their work permits since the Council considered them to
be engaged in unbalanced reporting and inadequate fact
The unrest in northern Cameroon, where the extreme
Islamist movement Boko Haram is carrying out raids, has
prompted the authorities to introduce anti-terrorist
laws which can also be used to silence the media.
Reports that have monitored the conflict have been
prosecuted for withholding information on threats to
Access to the internet and social media is sometimes
blocked by the government.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the constitution, the judiciary is
supposed to be independent of the authorities, but in
practice the courts often go to the government's
Both police and security forces are guilty of serious
abuses such as extortion, abuse, torture and even
extrajudicial executions. It is common for detainees to
be denied their legal right to a defender and many who
are detained may wait for trial for months or years.
The death penalty can be sentenced but is usually
converted to life imprisonment.