The government of Cameroon is making frantic efforts to dissuade members of the Cameroon Bar Association from holding a nationwide strike action. It told Bar Council members to “reconsider its decision” in an in-camera meeting in Wednesday September 4, 2019 in Yaounde.
In a strong worded document on Auguest 31, 2019, signed by the Bar President, Barrister Tchakounte Patie Charles and 12 members of the Cameroon Bar, lawyers were planning to go on strike from September 16 to 20, 2019.
In a meeting Wednesday between the ministry of justice and members of the Bar Council, the government urged the latter to reconsider it’s decision and promised to amend the situation and working conditions of lawyers in the exercise of their profession.
The Ministry of Defence, Secretary of state incharge of National gendarmerie (SED) Delegation general for national security (DGSN) which were also in attendance, assured that instructions will “be given immediately given to their collaborators in the regions for strict compliance with the legal provision in force governing police investigations, especially the right of suspects assisted by lawyers of their choice”
SED and head of Penitentiary Administration expressed readiness to meet the Bar Council “as early as possible”.
It was also agreed that an ad hoc committee working group, with designated members by the concerned public administrative bodies and the Bar Council should be created to address the grievances of lawyers.
But lawyers has vowed to stop attending to legal matters for close to one week until government addresses the following:
-Constant refusal of state institutions like the police stations, secretary of state for defence, prisons and gendarmerie brigades to grant them access to exercise their profession.
-Persistent violation of the rights of accused persons by judicial authorities.
-The trial of accused persons in a language they don’t understand
-Presentation of litigants in courts in dehumanized form, for example half naked or with wounds, daily torture of detainees
-Illegal detention of accused persons
-Frequent refusal by state prosecutors to release persons when they are either granted bail or have been discharged by a court of law, exorbitant cost of locus fee and other court charges amongst others.
The lawyers vehemently denounce the continous arrest, threats and detention of lawyers while trying to exercise their duties. They also frowned at the arrest, detention and recurrent barbaric violence meted on lawyers by forces of law and order.
Almost 20 civil Society groups and NGOs on Wednesday threw their support behind the lawyers and promised to join them in the protest.
The question on whether or not the nationwide strike action will hold after yesterday’s meeting ar the Ministry of Justice, remains unclear.
Mimi Mefo Info