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PALAGIPEL Project Unveils Cameroon’s ‘Bad’ Legal Texts

Cross section of PALAGIPEL-CBA Project Team members

By Nformi Sonde Kinsai

The Human Rights and Liberties Commission, HRLC, of the Cameroon Bar Association, CBA, has identified ‘bad’ texts, conventions, legal and regulatory constraints that warrant urgent modifications, amendments or ratification in order to fit into the country’s legislative and regulatory corpus.

The ‘bad’ texts and international conventions still to be ratified by Cameroon were sorted out in the course of implementation of the US Embassy-sponsored “Project to Assist the Legislative Arm of the Government to Improve on the Process of Enacting Laws, PALAGIPEL.”

In a report closing the project during an official ceremony in Yaounde on September 28, the Project Coordinator and President of the HRLC at the CBA, Barrister Christian Daniel Bissou, hailed the project team, experts and scholars as well as the US Embassy for the multifaceted support.

He said they were out to sustainably improve the process of elaboration and production of legislative and regulatory texts in Cameroon; provide locally elected officials with the tools necessary to understand the process of drafting and appropriation of the rules of law; take into account the bijural and multicultural status of Cameroon in the drafting of texts.

Barrister Bissou talked of teams of experienced lawyers that engaged MPs in the ten regions in the build up to the workshops programmed for them. The project, which took place in three phases, was led by selected scholars and magistrates with one of the phases being the creation of a simplified guide for drafting of laws.

In a strict scrutiny following the adopted guide, 20 members of the project identified the ‘bad’ texts and compiled in a document titled “texts to be modified.”

In criminal matters, the ‘bad’ texts include article 8 of Law n°201//012 of July 12, 2017 instituting a Code of Military Justice; articles 91,92(1), 116(3), 165(5), 218(2), 249(g), 336, 389,445(3) and 556(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code; article 322-1 of the Penal Code and law N°2014/28 of December 23, 2014 on the repression of acts of terrorism in Cameroon.

In civil and administrative matters, the following texts are concerned: the adoption of the Family Code by integrating all the relevant provisions of the International Conventions ratified by Cameroon; Readjustment of the texts on land matters notably the decree of 21 July 1932; ordinance n°74/1 of July 6, 1974 to establish the land tenure system; and ordinance n°74/2 of July 6, 1974 establishing the land tenure system.

Others include: Article 2 of decree n°69/DF/544 of 19 December 1969 to Lay Down the Judicial Organisation and Procedure before the Traditional Courts of East Cameroon; Article 3 of law n° 2007/001 of 14 April 2007 instituting the judge of execution litigation; articles 17, 19 and 31 of law n°68-LF-3 of June 11, 1968 on the Cameroonian nationality code; articles 6, 20, 37, 50 and 51 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon; law n°90/059 of December 19, 1990 on the organisation of the legal profession and the inter-ministerial instruction on the payment of legal fees (ex officio commissions).

Apart from the numerous local texts considered as ‘bad’ that need modification, the project also unveiled over 13 international texts (conventions) yet to be ratified by the Government of Cameroon. Such texts include: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of December 9, 1948; the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 28 September 1954; the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery of 30 November 1956; the Convention Against Discrimination in Education of December 14, 1960; the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of August 30, 1961; the Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages of December 10, 1962;

Some of such international instruments also include: the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports of December 10, 1985 (signed on March 21, 1988); the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169); the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Aiming at the Abolition of the DEATH penalty, 15 December 1989; the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption of July 11, 2003 (signed on June 30, 2008); the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 13 December 2006 (signed on 1 October 2008); the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of December 13, 2006 (signed on October 1, 2008); and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance of December 20, 2006 (signed on February 6, 2007).

Barrister Bissou also highlighted difficulties encountered in the course of the project due to the unwillingness of some MPs to accept contacts for discussions. He said they wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting for holding of seminars and educational talks as well as to all political parties represented at the national assembly.

 “The reaction was not always a deafening silence, but the question of how much the project would pay to do workshops with Cameroon’s Parliamentarians at each session; and could this money be paid in advance,” he stated.

He mentioned the workshop on “legislative methods and techniques” with 38 individual MPs and alternates drawn from the Southwest and Littoral Regions in Douala last May 26; training of 30 journalists from the Centre, South and East Regions in Mbalmayo last September 1, as well as training workshops that held in Bafoussam and Bamenda. In all, 135 locally elected officials were drilled on technics of conception, drafting, analysis, reading and discussion and the effectiveness of good laws.

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