Since the passage of a 2005 anti-trafficking in persons (anti-TIP) law, the Cameroonian government has stepped up its efforts to investigate and prosecute criminals involved in human trafficking rings. And yet, many actors in Cameroon charged with overseeing anti-TIP efforts lack sufficient knowledge about the phenomenon or about the 2005 law to effectively combat these crimes. The focus of the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI) efforts in Cameroon is to address this lack of capacity by training an array of anti-TIP actors.
At a recent two-day workshop, ABA ROLI trained Cameroonian police and its gendarmerie—a military body charged with police duties among civilian populations—on the anti-TIP law and about specific tactics they can employ to better combat human trafficking. Training modules developed specifically for workshop attendees provided a comprehensive overview of the global trafficking phenomenon and of the situation in Cameroon. After discussing relevant international, regional and national anti-TIP legislation, presentations focused on investigative techniques and best practices with respect to dealing with rescued trafficking victims. The training also included case simulations that allowed attendees to apply lessons learned during the training. The event was funded by the U.S. Department of State and was hosted by École Nationale Supérieure de Police (ENSP), which trains police.
Broad participation at the training was very encouraging, with attendees from eight provinces in attendance. Participants included high-ranking police, judiciary police, Interpol representatives, public security officials, and a considerable contingent from the gendarmes, including several colonels and commandants. All participated fully in the discussions and later expressed their satisfaction with the content of the training. Many promised to share the lessons learned with colleagues in their respective regions. Several attendees recommended that the curriculum be mainstreamed into programs at both the police and gendarmerie training institutions and that it be extended to include educational events in Cameroon’s 10 provinces.
In addition to the training modules, the conference included remarks by Yolande Fouda, ABA ROLI’s country director in Cameroon, that underscored the role of the police and the gendarmes in eliminating human trafficking in Cameroon. She also highlighted the need for better equipped legal and criminal professionals to address these crimes. Remarks by ENSP’s director recognized the relevance of the training and his institution’s commitment to human rights. He also expressed a need for more assistance from ABA ROLI in incorporating anti-TIP content into the police training. At the event’s end, he presented the participants with certificates. Also in attendance were three representatives from the U.S. Embassy in Cameroon, each of whom expressed gratitude to ABA ROLI for its efforts in helping local counterparts apprehend and prosecute human traffickers.