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Impediments to Access by the Children of Indigenous Peoples to the Justice System in Cameroon

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 November 2022

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Summary

INTRODUCTION

Access to the justice system is defined as a ‘right of all citizens to have unimpeded access to justice for defence of their interests, even if their submission should be declared improper, inadmissible or ill-founded’. It provides the possibility for the author of a claim to be heard in order for the judge to deliver their ruling. Access to justice is a sine qua non for the achievement of ‘justice rights’, such as the right to a trial or the rights of the accused (offences and penalties must be defined by law; presumption of innocence; etc.).

Access to justice has been enshrined globally, regionally, and nationally. It is a fundamental human right guaranteed by a number of international human rights instruments, in particular the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 8 of which provides that, ‘Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.’ The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights sets out this same principle in its Article 2(3). At the regional level, Cameroon has ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which in its Article 7(1)(a) enshrines a guarantee of unimpeded access to the justice system for all citizens of a State. At the national level, the Constitution of Cameroon includes the right of access to the justice system, by specifying in its preamble that, ‘the law shall ensure the right of every person to a fair hearing before the courts’. Its implementation is defined by laws such as the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In reference to the judgment in Golder v. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, access to the justice system must not be simply theoretical, but concrete, and not be compromised by legal or financial impediments linked to the litigant‘s lack of resources. An impediment is the ‘fact ( … ) of preventing the exercise of an activity authorized or required by law’. It is also any action or situation that may inhibit the free exercise of access to the justice system.

Type
Chapter
Information
Children's Access to Justice
A Critical Assessment
, pp. 169 - 182
Publisher: Intersentia
Print publication year: 2022

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