International

Cameroon – Anglophone Crisis: Human Rights Lawyer Agbor Balla Wins Top Human Rights Award

Human Rights Lawyer Nkongho Felix Agbor alias Agbor Balla, President of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC) is winner of the 3rd edition of the Shield Awards for Central Africa for his human rights work in Cameroon.

The Founder/President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa is expected in Zanzibar – Tanzania on June 14, 2019 at the award ceremony organised by AfricanDefenders – a Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network of five African sub-regional organisations, dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights defenders (HRDs) across the African continent.

The African Human Rights Defenders Shield Awards aim to honor exceptional individuals who have contributed to changes in their community by peacefully promoting and protecting human rights, as universally recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

While many of the stories featuring human rights defenders (HRDs) across the continent expose the sea of challenges and the threats that they continue to face, the Shield Awards highlight the positive impact of their outstanding human rights work and their unfading motivation.

AfricanDefenders hope that the stories of the award winners and nominees will inspire others to stand up and defend human rights.

The Shield Awards are composed of six different awards – an overall award called the Pan-African Shield Award and five sub-regional awards: East and Horn of Africa Shield Award, West African Shield Award, Southern Africa Shield Award, Central Africa Shield Award and North Africa Shield Award.

Hassan Shire, AfricanDefenders Chairperson says: “To the frontline human rights defenders of the continent, who raise an active voice for those who cannot speak up – wherever you are, you are part of a global movement.”

Agbor Balla, who eats, drinks, lives and dreams human rights, says he is humbled by the recognition. He dedicates the award to the suffering masses in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions trapped in a socio-political conflict that can be resolved on the dialogue table if the belligerents show good faith.

“On behalf of myself and the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, I wish to thank the African Defenders Network for selecting me as the winner of the Shield Award for Central Africa. It is an honour to be selected by this prestigious and reputable network. This will further strengthen my crusade for peace and respect of human rights,” Agbor Balla said.

Agbor Balla, who is also Vice President of the African Bar Association in charge of Central Africa, was a speaker at the Model African Union Conference in Bayreuth- Germany yesterday. He traced African wars and conflicts, and concluded that they were casualties of a colonial heritage.

The President of the outlawed Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium and former President of the Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) was among those who held talks with government in 2016 and January 2017 to rescue Common Law practice in a constitutionally bilingual, bi-cultural and bi-jural Cameroon.

He would later be arrested on January 17, 2017 moments after the Consortium he led was banned. He spent about eight months at the Principal Prison in Yaoundé during which time he was charged before a military tribunal and faced the maximum sentence. He was freed on September 1, 2017 but has kept alive his fight to protect and further human rights through the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA.

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