Sunday, 16 April 2017

Cameroon: Common Law Lawyers' Problems - Respecting Approach to Dialogue

Measures announced by the Minister of State, Minister of Justice to tackle Common Law Lawyers' problems reflected a sense of continuity.

Problems raised by members of the Common Law. Lawyer tradition in Cameroon that have resulted in the current crisis facing the Anglophone community in the country were once again in the spot-light on Thursday 30, March 2017. The Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso in the presence of four other cabinet ministers announced a battery of decisions taken by the Head of State, President Paul Biya to defuse tension created by the long drawn absence of the lawyers in jurisdictions within the North West and South West regions.

By Richard Kwang Kometa
Since October 2016, they complaint of perceived attempts to put them out of business and their litigants being deprived of fair trial due to the domineering presence of French speaking magistrates in Common Law courts and other factors. As the situation showed signs of degenerating, the Prime Minister, Head of Government Philemon Yang personally travelled to Bamenda to meet the aggrieved lawyers and at the end of their discussions, an agreement of some sort was arrived at with promises made by government to look into the issues. The first outcome was the creation of the Ad hoc inter-ministerial Committee charged with making proposals to government for effective solutions to be made. However, the liaison made between the worries expressed by the Common Law Lawyers and the Anglophone Teachers' Trade Unions made matters complicated and the recuperation of the grievances by the streets and others who saw in the complaints a possibility to settle all setbacks they face as a historical entity in the country has almost resulted in a collision. In the meantime tempers have flared up giving way to senseless destruction, accusations and counter accusations with even arrests that leave many curious to know how some of the cases will unfold. 
Cameroon: Common Law Lawyers' Problems - Respecting Approach to Dialogue
While some analysts were quick to conclude that the initial discussions of what should be appropriately called the Jean Pierre Fogui Committee might have ended in a deadlock, the president remained positive. The Minister Delegated at the Ministry of Justice who acted as President of the ad hoc Committee made it clear that concrete proposals had been made and forwarded to hierarchy for action. Speaking at a press conference in Yaounde last Thursday therefore, Minister Laurent Esso dished out a series of decisions taken by the Head of State and in the days ahead the various ministries involved should definitely be announcing follow-up moves to ensure that the presidential injunctions are made concrete. Besides the apprehended lawyers and those who have opted to take to their heels, Cameroonians are certainly eager to see the Common Law Lawyers maintain the path of dialogue given that the presence of cabinet ministers at the press briefing could also be a mark of their willingness to deliver on government promises. The desire of the Minister of State during the press conference that courtrooms should once more go operational in the North West and South regions and especially the tricky equation of handling identity pressures in Cameroon are concerns that need to be seen as evolving positively in the country as the days progress.

Barrister Calvin Tah: "Things Will Not Be Same Again"

Yaounde

"I can say without mixing words that the reforms are ground breaking. They are laudable and I think it shows that the Head of State is ready to solve the problems of lawyers. Most of the reforms deal with the claims lawyers channelled to the Head of State. The reforms are good for the proper functioning of the judiciary. We understand that the Supreme Court on commercial matters is the CCJA in Abidjan which is yet to be Common Law-friendly. We have always wanted lawyers, bailiffs, notaries and magistrates to be trained in the same school so that everyone comes out and specialized after sometime. In a nutshell, the reforms are very good and welcome. We pray the government to speed up the application of the Head of State's instructions so that it does not take too long. We understand these are instructions and it has taken this long to come, government should not wait again until things go offhand before its implementation. The good faith of the President will be seen when the various legal instruments will be drafted. Government should equally associate the Common Law Lawyers and the Bar association in the elaboration of the various legal instruments so that we handle the various issues once and for all."

Barrister Me-eh Walise Kum: "The Decision Is A Step Forward"

"The recent decision of the government is a way forward toward finding a lasting solution to the existing lawyers' problems in the North and South West Regions. The lawyers complained of eradication of the Common Law system which is practiced in the North West and South West Regions, the putting in place of a Common Law Supreme Court bench and a Common Law Department at ENAM amongst others. The Head of State's decision is a step forward because justice will be well administered especially if the decision was to be implemented according to the spirit intended by the author of the decision. Since the decision is to ensure the adequate application of the Common Law, the decision should clearly spells out which categories of persons will be appointed or trainned in the Supreme Court and the Common Law department created at ENAM respectively".

Measures announced by the Minister of State, Minister of Justice to tackle Common Law Lawyers' problems reflected a sense of continuity.

Problems raised by members of the Common Law. Lawyer tradition in Cameroon that have resulted in the current crisis facing the Anglophone community in the country were once again in the spot-light on Thursday 30, March 2017. The Minister of State, Minister of Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso in the presence of four other cabinet ministers announced a battery of decisions taken by the Head of State, President Paul Biya to defuse tension created by the long drawn absence of the lawyers in jurisdictions within the North West and South West regions. Since October 2016, they complaint of perceived attempts to put them out of business and their litigants being deprived of fair trial due to the domineering presence of French speaking magistrates in Common Law courts and other factors. As the situation showed signs of degenerating, the Prime Minister, Head of Government Philemon Yang personally travelled to Bamenda to meet the aggrieved lawyers and at the end of their discussions, an agreement of some sort was arrived at with promises made by government to look into the issues. The first outcome was the creation of the Ad hoc inter-ministerial Committee charged with making proposals to government for effective solutions to be made. However, the liaison made between the worries expressed by the Common Law Lawyers and the Anglophone Teachers' Trade Unions made matters complicated and the recuperation of the grievances by the streets and others who saw in the complaints a possibility to settle all setbacks they face as a historical entity in the country has almost resulted in a collision. In the meantime tempers have flared up giving way to senseless destruction, accusations and counter accusations with even arrests that leave many curious to know how some of the cases will unfold. While some analysts were quick to conclude that the initial discussions of what should be appropriately called the Jean Pierre Fogui Committee might have ended in a deadlock, the president remained positive. The Minister Delegated at the Ministry of Justice who acted as President of the ad hoc Committee made it clear that concrete proposals had been made and forwarded to hierarchy for action. Speaking at a press conference in Yaounde last Thursday therefore, Minister Laurent Esso dished out a series of decisions taken by the Head of State and in the days ahead the various ministries involved should definitely be announcing follow-up moves to ensure that the presidential injunctions are made concrete. Besides the apprehended lawyers and those who have opted to take to their heels, Cameroonians are certainly eager to see the Common Law Lawyers maintain the path of dialogue given that the presence of cabinet ministers at the press briefing could also be a mark of their willingness to deliver on government promises. The desire of the Minister of State during the press conference that courtrooms should once more go operational in the North West and South regions and especially the tricky equation of handling identity pressures in Cameroon are concerns that need to be seen as evolving positively in the country as the days progress.

Barrister Calvin Tah: "Things Will Not Be Same Again"


Yaounde

"I can say without mixing words that the reforms are ground breaking. They are laudable and I think it shows that the Head of State is ready to solve the problems of lawyers. Most of the reforms deal with the claims lawyers channelled to the Head of State. The reforms are good for the proper functioning of the judiciary. We understand that the Supreme Court on commercial matters is the CCJA in Abidjan which is yet to be Common Law-friendly. We have always wanted lawyers, bailiffs, notaries and magistrates to be trained in the same school so that everyone comes out and specialized after sometime. In a nutshell, the reforms are very good and welcome. We pray the government to speed up the application of the Head of State's instructions so that it does not take too long. We understand these are instructions and it has taken this long to come, government should not wait again until things go offhand before its implementation. The good faith of the President will be seen when the various legal instruments will be drafted. Government should equally associate the Common Law Lawyers and the Bar association in the elaboration of the various legal instruments so that we handle the various issues once and for all."

Barrister Me-eh Walise Kum: "The Decision Is A Step Forward"
"The recent decision of the government is a way forward toward finding a lasting solution to the existing lawyers' problems in the North and South West Regions. The lawyers complained of eradication of the Common Law system which is practiced in the North West and South West Regions, the putting in place of a Common Law Supreme Court bench and a Common Law Department at ENAM amongst others. The Head of State's decision is a step forward because justice will be well administered especially if the decision was to be implemented according to the spirit intended by the author of the decision. Since the decision is to ensure the adequate application of the Common Law, the decision should clearly spells out which categories of persons will be appointed or trainned in the Supreme Court and the Common Law department created at ENAM respectively". Copyright © 2017 Cameroon Tribune


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