Cameroon Legal System

Since July 2005, when the very different penal codes in the French- and English-speaking regions of Cameroon were unified, significant investments have been made in the modernization and expansion of the judicial system. Legal system: mixed legal system of English common law, French civil law and customary law Before the amendments (promulgated in 1996) to the 1972 Constitution of 1995, the judiciary was supervised by the Ministry of Justice, part of the executive, and did not function as an independent branch of government. The December 1995 amendments provided for a more independent judiciary. However, in 2003, these provisions were not applied. Ill-treatment continues to be reported, including beatings of prisoners, arbitrary arrests and unlawful searches. The judiciary often remains corrupt, inefficient and subject to political influence. In 1997, the prison system had 15,903 persons, the equivalent of 115 per 100,000 inhabitants. However, the prison population has grown rapidly in recent years. The New Bell prison in Douala was supposed to accommodate 800 inmates, but holds 3,100. The International Centre for Prison Studies estimates that Cameroon has the second highest occupancy rate in the world after Barbados, with about half awaiting trial. “The Cameroonian legal system is based on the French civil law system with the influence of English common law; However, the legal system includes both national and customary law, and many cases can be heard in both cases. [21] This makes Cameroon one of the few examples of such a dual legal system in the world. “The Constitution provides for a fair public hearing in which the accused is presumed innocent, there is no jury system.

Since appointed lawyers received little compensation, the quality of legal representation of the poor is often poor. The Bar Association and some voluntary organizations, such as the Cameroonian Association of Women Lawyers, offer free support in some cases. Trials were generally public, except in cases where political nuances were deemed to disturb social peace. [23] The Ministry of Justice of Cameroon is the department responsible for the administration of the Cameroonian judicial system. Since May 2004, the Minister of State for Justice has been Amadou Ali. The legal system in Cameroon is complex with a constitution drafted in 1972 and revised in 1996, as well as elements of the Napoleonic Code, common law and customary law. In early 2005, the Ministry of Justice became responsible for the administration of the penitentiary system due to unrest in prisons. The Ministry of Justice also has a shared responsibility for the administration of human rights in Cameroon.

There have been serious allegations of the use of torture by police and military officials in Cameroon. Information about the recruitment and training process of potential law enforcement personnel in Cameroon is very vague and misleading. Although they draw on the previous literature of countries with similar judicial and governmental structures, such practices would likely fall into the category of centralized structures that adhere to a single set of laws throughout a country. For the same reason, there is the fact that Cameroon also operates under customary law, which raises the question of whether this multi-system government really falls under one of the recognized legal families well described in the fifth edition of Philip L. Reichel “Comparative Ciminal Justice Systems”. Cameroonian law has three main sources: local customary law, the French civil code and British law, although in the 1980s there was a report on the development of a uniform code of law. The Supreme Court, in addition to its other powers and duties conferred by the Constitution, decides definitively on appeals that the law may lodge from the judgments of the provincial courts of appeal. The system also includes courts of appeal in each of the 10 provinces, courts of first instance in each of the country`s 58 divisions and a 15-member Supreme Court appointed by the National Assembly. Proposals for appointments and sanctions against judges throughout the republic are launched by the Superior Council of the Judiciary, whose president is the Head of State. An impeachment court has the right to try the president for high treason and cabinet ministers for conspiracy against state security. The common law, in addition to the English language and way of life, was introduced in a small part of Cameroon, which currently represents 2 of the 10 regions of Cameroon by the English during their stewardship on this part of the country. This was modelled on the common law legislation that applied in the neighbouring English colony of Nigeria.

This explains why some important laws passed by Nigerian legislative bodies, as well as the jurisprudence of some Nigerian jurisdictions, are still applicable in this part of Cameroon. Both regions were historically ruled by the British as part of Nigeria and were then commonly referred to as Southern Cameroon. Independent Cameroon has thus inherited a bilingual and bijurel legal system along the lines mentioned above. Without going into the political implications, it should be noted here that attempts to harmonize the two legal systems have often met with much opposition and mutual distrust, especially among Cameroonians of English and common law training. This is because they believe that the English language and the common law are marginalized in the harmonization process. The culmination of this discontent was triggered by the promulgation by Cameroon of the Treaty for the Harmonization of Economic Law in Africa (OHADA), signed in Port Louis on 17 October 1993. It should be noted that this treaty, which aims to harmonize economic law in 14 French African countries, including Cameroon, does not take into account the particular situation of Cameroon, because the English language and the common law have been ignored. In any case, the process of legal harmonization in Cameroon is continuing and has borne fruit at the national and regional levels. At the national level, Cameroon now has a uniform penal code, a land law, a labour law, a code of criminal procedure, etc.

Attempts in other areas such as civil proceedings have failed. At the regional level, Cameroon now has uniform legislation in the following areas: insurance law, maritime law, banking law, arbitration, securities, general commercial law, accounting regulations of companies and economic interest groups, etc. Newly introduced laws can be found in the government gazzette, they are published in English and French, judges and the ministry have legal access to the gazzette of the law. Although the practice helps to maintain an organized register of introduced laws, it plays a minimal role in the daily life of ordinary Cameroonians, to which the majority of the population adheres and lives on the basis of deep-rooted customs, tribal laws and social norms. [22] The Ministry of Justice became responsible for the administration of the penitentiary system in early 2005 and assumed responsibility for the Ministry of Territorial Administration of Cameroon. This follows the unrest caused by prison overcrowding and long prison stays without prison charges. A person who believes that his or her rights may have been violated may take his or her case to the statutory courts or to the traditional courts.

Open chat
Need Help?
Hi there!

Welcome to OMNI-Tech website. Ask us anything, we replay immediately.