The Cameroon Bar Association has announced a five-day nationwide sit-in strike action beginning September 16.
According to the lawyers, the strike action has been informed by a plethora of legal transgressions on the part of judicial authorities and the Government in the dispense of justice and the treatment of lawyers and accused persons.
In a resolution sanctioning the strike action, signed by 13 members of the Bar Council executive, the signatories noted that the Bar Council has examined issues relating to the difficulties endured by lawyers in the exercise of their profession.
According to them, lawyers have consistently been denied access to their clients and persons in the various detention centres (Secretariat of State for Defence, prisons, Police stations, and Gendarme Brigades).
The advocates and solicitors further stated that the rights of accused persons protected by the national and international instruments ratified by Cameroon are constantly and consistently being violated by judicial authorities such as: trial in a language not understood by litigants, accused persons in violation of their dignity are naked before the trial courts, the extraction of confessional statements from accused persons through the use of torture and inducements, prolonged detention of accused persons, transformation of judicial detention into administrative detention.
The lawyers also condemned the frequent refusal by State Prosecutors to release persons when they are either granted bail or have been discharged by a court of law, the recurrent refusal to acknowledge service of applications made by lawyers to judicial authorities and refusal to respond to some applications for lawyers.
The lawyers further decried the exorbitant cost of locus fees and other court charges and the retention and refusal to assign case files by certain heads of courts.
After listing a litany of grievances they have against the judicial authorities and the system in place, the lawyers also noted that in spite of the numerous complains they have made relating to the treatment of lawyers, “Lawyers are continuously being threatened, arrested, and detained while exercising their function.”
They further chided the recurrent and barbaric violence meted out on lawyers by members of the forces of law and order. In concluding their outlined grievances, the Bar Council in its statement said “Consequently, the Bar Council in protest; calls on all lawyers to observe a five day nationwide sit-in strike, beginning as from the 16 to the 20 day of September 2019. The Bar Council shall evaluate the situation and take any further steps as it shall hereafter deem necessary;
“The Bar Council hereby calls on all representatives of the President of the Cameroon Bar Association to ensure the strict compliance of lawyers with this resolution in their respective jurisdictions.” The Bar Council’s statement was signed by the Bar Council President, Charles Tchakoute Patie and 12 other officials of the Bar Council.