There has been a long-standing difference between lawyers and elements of the gendarmerie in particular and security and defence forces in general in Cameroon.
Successive presidents of the Cameroon Bar Association have struggled to address this to no avail.
According to Barrister Tamfu Richard, a human rights lawyer in Cameroon, differences in the training received by lawyers and gendarmes is the source of constant conflict.
“Most gendarmes got into their training school with just the First School Leaver’s Certificate. But due to many years of service, some of them are promoted to the ranks of commander.
This position demands mastery of elementary tenets of law and respect for human rights. They are ignorant about all these. That is why most often, they see lawyers as enemies rather than those seeking justice for their clients”.
To some lawyers, the manhandling of lawyers cannot be limited only to gendarmes in Cameroon. To Barrister Ebi Stanley, “Uniform men and women in Cameroon see lawyers as a threat. When they see us, they are afraid that we will stop their deeds of extorting money from Cameroonians”.
To the Buea based lawyer, this explains the constant conflict between the gendarmes and lawyers in the course of any judicial process.
To some lawyers, the lawyer versus gendarme relationship further deteriorated from 2005 when the harmonized criminal procedure code was promulgated according to rights to lawyers.
As lawyers in Cameroon decry what they describe as unprofessional behavior of gendarmerie elements towards them, those practicing in the Anglophone regions, the North West and South West, say uniform men see them as suspects and won’t hesitate to humiliate and brutalized them while rendering justice.
Note that the President of the Bar Council in Cameroon has written a petition to the Secretary of State in charge of the National Gendarmerie, Galax Yves Landry Etoga denouncing and calling for an end to wrong actions against lawyers committed by some elements of the gendarmerie.
Bâtonnier Tchakounte Patie Charles stresses that the Secretary of State in charge of the National Gendarmerie may have good intentions of building a cordial relationship with the legal profession as an indispensable factor in the chain of rendering justice but regrets that some elements have been abusing the efforts on the field.
It remains unclear how the Secretary of State in charge of the National Gendarmerie will react to the petition of the Bar Council president given that a sit down strike by lawyers in 2019 has yielded no fruits.
Mimi Mefo Info