The Cameroon Bar Council is demanding the government to withdraw the Penal Code, currently under review by Cameroon Members of Parliament and Senators.
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In a statement after an extraordinary session of the Bar Council held on June 16 2016,the lawyers observed that there is no correlation between the French and English versions
(the translation is said to have been done using the google translator with all its deficiencies).
The Bar council condemns “the translation disparity between the French and English versions of the said bill with the consequential effect being the divergence in interpretation
and the likelihood of misinterpretation and application of the said text with the probability of creating chaos in the administration of Justice,” partly read the press statement.
The legal minds demand that the government withdraws the bill and bring it back only when the suggestions made by the Cameroon Bar Council is given due consideration.
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The Bar said that it was never consulted before the submission of the draft bill to the National Assembly and wants a Review of problematic provisions,
the striking out of obsolete and unwarranted provisions and for the Draft Bill to comply with International Instruments ratified by the Republic of Cameroon.
The Bar council President Jackson F. NGNIE KAMGA is arguing that such an important document cannot be drawn up without the consultation and consent of lawyers, civil society actors and human rights defenders.
The draft code n° 989/PJL/AN was single handedly drawn up and tabled before parliament by the Cameroon government, presumably the Ministry of Justice with no consensus or consultation with lawyers and magistrates, argues the Cameroon’s Bar Council.
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The lawyers are demanding MPs to take up their responsibilities and look into the proposals from the Bar.
PRESS OFFENCES PUNISHABLE
What is being observed taking a quick look at the draft 372 articled and 119 page bill is that ,while other countries the world over are depenalising for instance, press offences,
Art 305 of the draft code punishes defamation with six days to six months imprisonment and a fine of between 5000 Frs to 2.000.0000 million frs CFA.
The same code in its Article 198 said the punishment would be double for publications made through the media.
The penal code gives different fines and sentences for public drunkenness, gathering of more than five persons in public places, begging, (3 months-3 years imprisonment) insults among other issues hitherto seemingly unpunished.
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On the protection of the women and children, Art 277 condemns male and female genital mutilation, rape sexual harassment, (Art 302) those who fail to send their children to school (355) or chase their wives or husbands from the house (Art 358).
Homosexuality remains punishable. Provisions for the punishment of domestic violence were not immediately spotted.
Although the government in the preamble of the draft bill said the intention of tabling a new code is to modernize and harmonize the two (Anglophone and Franchone) legal systems,
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it remains unclear what the government is insinuating when it said mentalities and behaviors have changed,
with the changes being amplified by the new Information and Communication Technology.
With lawyers already demanding a withdrawal of the code, it would be appropriate for everyone to read the code and be aware of the fines and imprisonment that accompanies offences.
Here is the link to the entire draft bill….https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B61Wx9KGBCERWmRWZk5ZMm5uWDA/view?pref=2&pli=1