31 August 2017

Cameroon: Claims By Anglophone Lawyers - the Milestone Covered By Government

Photo: Peter Kum/Cameroon Info
Protesters use catapult against police in Bamenda

Quite a good number of measures have been taken in line with claims raised by Anglophone lawyers in order to cleans the English arm of the country's judicial system:

The problems presented by Anglophone Lawyers and the response from government did not end in a cat and mouse game. In effect, a medley of measures has been taken by government after seeing some sense in the issues raised by the men of law. In his introductory statement during a press conference organised on March, 30 this year, the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso revealed to reporters the instructions of the Head of State to find a lasting solution to the problems. Some of these problems, he said were already under examination prior to the strike organised by some lawyers. Solution-searching Committees Several committees were put in place to examine the problems related to the country's judicial system pending the holding of the forum on the judiciary ordered by the Head of State on July 09, 2015. The said forum is expected to review, in addition to legislative problems, all problems relating to the judicial system.

Preparations are on-going, however, in the light of the claims of the lawyers epitomised by nationwide strike, the Prime Minister, Head of Government on December 22, 2016 set up an Adhoc Committee charged with examining proposals for solutions to the concerns of Anglophone lawyers. In addition to this, on the instructions of the Head of State, the Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals set a working group comprising the Minister of Higher Education, the Minister of Public Service and Administrative Reforms, the Minister of Finance and the Director General of ENAM. All these were aimed at reviewing the problems raised by Anglophone lawyers and proposing solutions to the appreciation of the President of the Republic. Claims on Marginalisation of Common Law The President of the Republic has answered some of the concerns of the Anglophone lawyers by instructing the amendment of the organisation and functioning of the Supreme Court with provisions for the inclusion of the Common Law section. The School of Administration and Magistracy (ENAM) now has a Common Law section on the instructions of the Head of State who has equally ordered the recruitment of Anglophone teachers at the Magistracy and Registry Divisions of ENAM. A special recruitment of English Speaking pupils Judicial and legal officers as well as court registrars over a period of four years based on quotas has been ordered. Translation of OHADA Law At the initiative of Cameroon, the OHADA law which made French the sole language was amended in 2008. The translated version was published in the Official Gazette on November 24, 2016 and a copy handed over to the Secretary General of the Presidency two days after.

The Minister of State; Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals on November, 29, 2016, symbolically handed over the copy to the President of the Bar Council. Census of Anglophone Judicial, Legal Officer Instructions have been given for a census of judicial and legal officers of English expression to be made. The aim is to increase the number of judicial and legal officers at the nation's highest court. In the same vein, the linguistic ability of judicial and legal officers posted to jurisdictions of the North West and South West Regions has already been assessed. Ahead of the outcome, the Head of State has already transferred some high ranking judicial and legal officers on this basis. Academic Obligations Following the prescriptions of the Head of State, the Faculty of Legal and Political Sciences has been created in the University of Buea and the department of English Law in the Universities of Douala, Maroua, Ngaoundere and Dschang similar to that in the University of Yaounde II Soa. Also, a working group has been ordered to be set up to prepare courses for judicial careers in the Universities and courses for the training of judicial and legal officers in ENAM. These and many other measures have been taken in response to the claims of the Anglophone lawyers. This, from every indication is a significant milestone already covered.

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