260/02 Bakweri Land Claims Committee / Cameroon Summary of Facts 1. The complaint is filed by the Bakweri Land Claims Committee (BLCC) on behalf of the Traditional Rulers, Notables and Elites of the indigenous minority peoples of Fako Division (the "Bakweri") against the government of Cameroon. 2. The complaint follows the Presidential Decree No. 94/125 of 14th July 1994 where the Government of Cameroon listed the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC), which will allegedly result in the alienation, to private purchasers, of approximately 400 square miles (104,000 hectares) of lands in the Fako division traditionally owned, occupied or used by the Bakweri. The Complainant alleges that the transfer would extinguish the Bakweri title rights and interests in two-thirds of the minority group's total land area. 3. The Complainant states that the land in question was seized from Bakweri landowners between 1887 and 1905 by German colonial occupiers, which was acknowledged by the British colonial authorities and the United Nations General Assembly (UN Document 189, paragraph 16) in November 1949, and that the land in question was bought back by the British Colonial Government following WWII, and declared "Native Lands" and placed under the custody of the Governor of Nigeria to hold in trust for the Bakweri. In 1947, the lands were later leased to a newly created statutory corporation, the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) for a period of 60 years to administer and develop [the] same until such time that the Bakweri people were competent to manage them without outside assistance. 4. The Complainant alleges that the Bakweri's antecedent rights and interests to this land survived the change of sovereignty from the British Crown to the State of Cameroon. The Complainant states that the Bakweri title to this land has never been extinguished, confirmed by Cameroon's 1974 Land Tenure Act 74-1 which states that land entered in the Grundbuch is subject to the right of private property, and that the lands held in trust were leased in 1947 for a period of 60 years to the CDC, until that time that the Bakweri people were competent to manage them without assistance, and that during this time the rents paid for the land were to be paid to the local councils in Fako division. 5. The Complainant alleges that the process of extinguishment set in motion by Decree No. 94/125, the privatisation of CDC and with it the likelihood of transferring Bakweri private lands to third parties is in violation of the Bakweri people's right to private property and the freedom to dispose of their wealth and natural resources, which are guaranteed in the African Charter. The Complainant further alleges that this process is being carried out without any discussion of fair compensation to the Bakweri in violation of the African Charter and Cameroon's own Constitution. 6. The Complainant alleges that the concentration of private Bakweri lands in non-native hands undermines the Bakweri people's right to development, by irrevocably altering existing land holding arrangements and pattern of natural resource exploitation and by forcing a future exodus of the Bakweri population to other parts of Cameroon who will need to relocate for more land for their agricultural and development needs, and thereby risk aggravating social tensions. The Complainant further alleges that the Government of Cameroon has adopted a discriminatory approach toward the Bakweri that has totally lacked in fundamental fairness and has failed to include proper representation of the Bakweri stakeholders in the negotiations with regard to the future of the CDC. Complaint 7. The Complainant alleges violations of Articles 7(1)(a), 14, 21, 22 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights. 8. The Complainant prays for the Commission to recommend that: • the government of Cameroon affirm the lands occupied by the CDC are private property; • ground rents owed to the Bakweri dating back to 1947 be paid to a Bakweri Land Trust Fund; • the Bakweri, acting jointly and severally, be allocated a specific percentage of shares in each of the privatised companies; • the BLCC be represented in the current and all future policy and management boards. 1

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