Carmichael in Cameroon for two weeks of volunteering

AlistairCarmichaelLiberal Democrat Chief Whip swaps lurking in the shadows of Westminster for two weeks in Cameroon today.

As I write he’s in Terminal One at Heathrow waiting to catch a flight to Brussels and will land in the African country, which lies between Nigeria to the north, Equatorial Guinea to the South and the Central African Republic to the east.

Alistair is not heading to Cameroon for a holiday. He will be part of a VSO project, working for the Aide Legale Liberale, an organisation which aims to provide free legal representation for those who would otherwise not be able to afford it. Nobody here can truly identify with the terrible problems these people face. Child prisoners and victims of torture are just some of the people ALL helps. From the ALL website:

Despite the lack of access to information, the legal system in Cameroon is very much alive; people can be pulled into legal proceedings, or pursue their own at any time.  This leaves people endeavouring to discover their legal rights in a vulnerable position, left to the whims of lawyers and exorbitant fees.  People’s vulnerable positions are then only exacerbated by the widespread corruption which can operate at various levels of the legal process.

The expense of legal proceedings from start to finish is high, and therefore financially vulnerable people (those most in need of the law’s protection) are either unable to access the law to seek redress for wrongs done to them, or are unable to afford the law’s protection when it is used against them.  For this reason, ALL for Cameroon is dedicated to providing free information, advice, and legal representation to those who are unable to otherwise afford it.  ALL for Cameroon handles a diverse range of cases, many of which involve abuses of power by the strong against the weak.

Alistair will be keeping us all informed on his new blog which he’s started specifically to cover his stint in Cameroon, so keep in touch with it over the next fortnight. He says:

I am not, to be honest, a natural blogger or a particularly enthusiastic one.  It seemed, however, like a good way of keeping people back home informed about what I am doing and maybe raising awareness of the work of ALL for Cameroon.  There is obviously a limit to what I can achieve in a two week project but I hope that this might be just the start of an association with ALL for Cameroon and that maybe some of you might be prepared to support them in this country.

If you read the tabloid press, you’d get the impression that politicians are a bunch of scoundrels who never lift a finger to help anyone. I’ve always known this was nonsense, knowing as I do the hours and effort decent people from all parties put in to serve those they represent and others. It’s quite common for them to head off on volunteering stints like this.

We’ll be keeping an eye on Alistair’s work over the next two weeks and wish him well.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • Well done. VSO is an amazing organisation that actually does something proactive in the fight against global poverty.

  • Excellent news. I returned from Cameroon in December after three and half years working there and played my own small part in supporting this VSO programme. It should be a challenging but rewarding experience and I look forward to following it on the blog.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 18th Aug '13 - 2:47pm

    Nigeria is to the west, Chad is to the north.

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