Politics

June 2022 Parliamentary Session: Gov’t Submits Bill Reviewing Visa Procedures In Cameroon’s Diplomatic Missions, Consular Posts

House Speaker, Hon Cavaye, chairing a parliamentary session

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo

Persons travelling to Cameroon may in the days ahead need more substantial documents to guarantee their stay in the country.

 That is because the Cameroon Government has summited a bill in parliament to amend and supplement some provisions of Law No. 97/12 of 10 January 1997 to lay down the conditions of entry, stay and exit from Cameroon. This bill which is under review is likely to be voted.

The conference to deem the bill admissible was presided over by House Speaker, Hon. Cavaye Yenguie Djibril, while his deputy, Hon. Hilarion Etong, chaired the plenary sitting where the bill was later sent to the Constitutional Laws Committee for scrutiny.

For several years that Cameroon has been embarking on the process of modernising its diplomatic tools – notably consular services – the bill contains major innovations in the visa procedures.

One of the major innovations has been introduced in Section 10(1a), which stipulates that, “A valid passport or other travel document stamped with an entry visa to Cameroon or including an online visa authorisation obtained from a diplomatic or consular mission of Cameroon abroad”.

Other innovations have also come in, in Section 11(1a) stating that, “a valid passport or any other travel document stamped with a long-stay entry visa or including an online visa authorisation”, while section 15(1a) states that, “A long-stay visa or an online visa authorisation and the documents provided for under Section 11.”

Other sections remain unchanged. However, the government thinks that the use of this new technology will help to centralise and protect data collected by the digital platform set up.

In addition, it will also help to control entry and exit flows nationwide by deploying terminals at all points of entry (land, sea, air, and port) as well as ensuring maximum security of diplomatic documents.

For diaspora and foreigners wishing to stay in Cameroon, this reform addresses several concerns, notably in terms of distances to be covered and queues at embassies. Furthermore, it will standardise consular service delivery and ease embassy work management.

In terms of public finance, the state revenue will be better secured through online payments via a monitoring platform to enable transparent revenue management according to Section 21 of the Finance Law for the 2022 Financial Year.

Implementing these reforms, the government thinks this could facilitate travel to Cameroon destinations, thus aligning Cameroon with relevant international standards and enhancing the quality of its consular services.

While this bill is still to be adopted, the Lower House of Parliament has adopted several bills among which is the bill relating to medically assisted reproduction in Cameroon. Defended by the Minister of Public Health, Dr. Manouda Malachi, the bill aiming at laying down rules governing medically assisted reproduction in Cameroon seeks to provide a legal response to the strong desire for parenthood from married or unmarried couples as well as others.

The bill allows persons seeking medically assisted reproduction to realise their parenthood plans under appropriate legal protections as well as provides public authorities with a suitable sector control and regulatory tool comprised of 65 sections divided into 10 chapters.

In as much as the bill states and reaffirms principles that underpin the practice in Cameroon – such as the respect for life and dignity of the human person; and the principles of prior, free, and informed written consent among others – the bill restricts medically assisted reproduction exclusively to couples.

Those seeking this method must be at least 21 years of age and 55 years at most for women. The unborn child’s interest has also been taken into account with provisions prohibiting the disclosure of information that could lead to stigmatisation. Concerning public control and regulation, the bill includes several prohibitions as well as administrative and criminal sanctions for offenders.

Another bill that had been adopted in Parliament is Bill No. 2022/PLJ/AN seeking to authorise the President of the Republic to ratify the protocol relating to an amendment to article 50 (a) of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, ICAO, signed at Montreal, Canada, on October 6, 2016. The bill was defended by Jean Ernest Masséna Ngallè Bibéhè, Minister of Transport.

The bill ratifying Ordinance No. 2022/001 of 02 June 2022 amending and supplementing certain provisions of Law No. 2021/026 of 16 December 2021 on the Finance Law of the Republic of Cameroon for the 2022 Financial Year was also adopted. The bill was defended by Minister Louis Paul Motaze of Finance.

Among others, Bill No. 2020/PLJ/AN to authorise the President of the Republic to ratify the Multilateral Convention on Social Security of the Inter-African Conference on Social Security, CIPRES adopted in Dakar Senegal on February 27, 2006, was also adopted.

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