24 delegates, men and women from 14 countries in central and West Africa and Madagascar, attended the second year of the VIIth Norbert Kenne course, held at the Catholic University of Central Africa in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Two major facts had emerged from previous courses:
the weight of some cultural traditions leads to toleration or legitimizing of human rights violations on the Continent of Africa;
even the principle of a ban on torture is very fragile there.
So the VIIth Norbert Kenne course set itself two objectives:
reinforcing the ability of front-line workers to employ national and international legal instruments on enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions;
sharing best practices that had been identified on combating torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions and creating teaching tools suitable for the specific needs of African societies.
Practical workshops covered theory and specific examples, creating a context which encouraged analysis and thoroughgoing reflections on the universal foundations of human rights and the absolute nature of the ban on torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions.
Two main themes emerged from this course: the weakness – and in some cases failure – of the State and its institutions; and a specific sociocultural context that favours or legitimises certain types of torture. It should be stressed that rigorous selection and the limited number of participants made a great contribution to the exceptional quality of the work and the success of the training. In fact, the participants were very keen to form a network with other African human rights activists, in particular the participants from former Norbert Kenne courses.