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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Cameroon:Police torture protesting lawyers in Fako: At least 60 injured!




Anglophone lawyers in Southwest Region of Cameroon defied police brutality to stage protest march ,pressing  for solutions to their concerns
By Christopher Ambe

     Police and gendarmes in riot gear Thursday morning could be seen stationed at strategic road junctions in Buea.Some   barricaded all the entrances to  Buea court buildings, while others were on patrol in attempts to preempt a peaceful protest by Anglophone lawyers announced to take place that morning.
     Water canon trucks were also stationed  near Buea Mountain Club waiting for instructions and the appropriate moment to fire tear gas and  seemingly pepper spray, The Recorder observed.
     Decently dressed in black suits and some in their wigs and gowns, the Common Law lawyers who before opting for street protests, had been on sit-in strike for over a month, least expected that police could brutalize, molest and torture them.
    These human rights defenders were mistaken as the law enforcement forces had planned to give them doses of police brutality and torture, apparently okayed by the Biya administration, which is yet to have a meaningful dialogue with the advocates over the latter’s demands.
     Armed police chased lawyers all over struggling to dismantle any of their peaceful gatherings especially as they they had programmed to assembly in front of the Southwest Court of Appeal before proceeding with their protest marches; Police clubbed them, dragged them out of their vehicles and tortured some in public .Lawyers had their wigs and gowns seized and their phones shattered. Several others were even arrested but hurriedly released.
 To avoid identification by the pain-inflicting forces, a few lawyers reportedly ran into roadside bushes and removed their suits, hiding for safety.
Lawyer Caroline Time with  injured leg
    At Street 2 entrance to Great Soppo in Buea,at about 9:15 am Thursday , this reporter witnessed how police with batons beat female lawyers. For example, Lawyer Caroline Time of Taku Chambers in Buea was beaten and injured, leaving her bleeding. .As the police closed up on another Lawyer Blaise Sevidzem Berinyuy to beat him, he ran for safety while loudly denouncing the violation of their rights.
    Unfortunately, some ordinary people who wore black suits that morning were mistaken for lawyers and molested.
    But the brutal reaction from the forces did not in any way deter the determined lawyers who marched past in the towns of Muyuka, Limbe and Muea –Buea with placards pressing for their demands just as was the case in Bamenda days before. So determined was the Biya administration, it seemed, that riot police were invited to Buea from Douala.
     Speaking to The Recorder, at the end of the Thursday protest marches, Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho, President of Fako Lawyers Association (FAKLA) and one of the leaders of the lawyers’ strike and protest marches noted:
   “As we speak I don’t know any lawyer in detention. Those who were arrested have been released. But lawyers were treated cruelly, inhumanely and degradingly. They were insulted in French. Our rights were violated. The police seized the wigs and gowns of at least hundred lawyers. Lawyers were dragged in mud. It was kind of terrorizing the civilian population that the forces of law and order were doing.
   “It is shocking and degrading for a country that professes the rule of law and good governance…We are stunned by the heavy-handedness of the forces of law and order, considering that authorities were informed that it would be a peaceful protest and that lawyers would respect state institutions”
    Barrister Nkongho  disclosed to The Recorder that at least sixty ( 60) of his colleagues, while being rough handled by the forces, sustained injuries and were responding to treatment at various health facilities. The Recorder could not independently confirm the number reportedly injured.

Another injured lawyer being attended to
    The lawyers  who are fighting to protect Common Law Practice in Cameroon, barely days  before the street protests in major towns and cities in Anglophone Cameroon( former British Southern Cameroons),had announced the creation of what is now known as Cameroon Common Law Bar Association, apparently splitting what used to be known as Cameroon Bar Association.
     It is unclear why the Cameroon government is insensitive to the demands of Anglophone lawyers months after they had submitted them to the Biya administration for solutions.(Read Anglophone Lawyers Prolong Strike by One Week Over Government's ''Divide and Rule Tactics')
     But political pundits have been quick to claim that it may be Government’s “secret plan to perpetuate the marginalization” of Anglophone Cameroon, which the Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) tagged as a secessionist group, has since 1994 been fighting against- by calling for the restoration of the Independence of Southern Cameroons.
    The lawyers have resolved to continue using all legal means to press for their demands.
 "We are not going to give up … The fight for our rights has just started”, Barrister Nkongho told the protesting lawyers at the end of the protest marches, while lauding them for defying the odds to standup for their rights.




Saturday, November 5, 2016

Eve of His 34th Anniversary as Cameroon President: Paul Biya told to resign due to huge failures !


Popular Action Party (PAP), of Ayah Paul, which is calling for the resignation, notes that Biya's report card is in red.

Below is a statement from PAP:

On Saturday November 5, 2016 (the eve of Biya's 34th anniversary as president), the National Strategic Team of Popular Action Party, PAP gathered at the Yaounde residence of their Secretary General, Akoson Raymond.  Paul Biya’s performance as president in the past 34 years in office was fairly assessed and his Report Card is hereby published.
  The PAP team comprising mostly youth politicians evaluated president Biya on both the Domestic and International Affairs. On Domestic Affairs, nine elements were considered namely: the Economy, Education, Health, Democracy, Energy, Security, Transportation, Communication and Sports. On Foreign Affairs, Biya was scored on International Cooperation.
  On the whole, the youth politicians scored Biya a Grade F and asked him to Resign.

ECONOMY
In most of 1981, Cameroon’s GDP growth rate stood at 17.1% (Source: ReSAKSS, based on World Bank 2014). This means President Paul Biya inherited a very healthy economy from his predecessor on November 6, 1982. Despite richly blessed soils and fertile lands on which all manner of agricultural products [coffee, cocoa, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, cassava (manioc, tapioca); livestock; timber] do well, and endowment of enormous mineral resources [Oil, hydroelectric power, natural gas, cobalt, nickel], in 2016, the economy has nose-dived to the neighbourhoods of 4% GDP growth rate.
    What’s worse? Little can be seen in economic growth terms from all the loans we have taken. According to the Autonomous Amortisation Fund (CAA), the public organisation in charge of managing public borrowing, Cameroon reached FCFA 4,502 billion during the first quarter of 2016 (3,480 billion representing the external debts and FCFA 1,023 billion of domestic debts).

The unemployment rate is 30% while that of underemployment stands at 75% (International Labor Organization). Our human potential (mental capacity) is fleeing the country for jobs and better options elsewhere. President Biya has failed woefully in the business of reducing unemployment by industrializing our economy; create industries that transform raw materials into finished products for national, regional and international exportation. There’s no concrete There’s no concrete framework to encourage youth entrepreneurial spirit with accompanying flexible loan structure.
Increase in agricultural production and the rise in the per-capita income of the rural community, together with industrialization and urbanisation, lead to more increased demand in industrial production. President Biya just doesn’t know this.
PAP therefore scores him F for a missed opportunity and wasted 34 years in office!

DEMOCRACY
To fairly score President Biya, Popular Action Party, PAP of Justice AYAH Paul splits democracy into five different elements namely: Personal Freedoms, Press Freedoms, Political Freedoms, Political Equality, The Rule of Law, The Common Good, Human Dignity, Being Informed and Getting Involved, and Respect. Before we make an analysis of these elements, it is worth mentioning that contrary to what some say, that Biya ‘gave Cameroonians democracy’, this is completely false! On February 19, 1990, officers from the CENER, Cameroon’s national intelligence service, raided the home and office of Yondo Mandengue Black in the city of Douala. They arrested him and confisticated a draft document titled “Coordination Nationale pour la démocratie et le multipartisme” (National Coordination for Democracy and Multipartyism). And in Bamenda on May 26, 1990 Fru Ndi defied government ban and organized a rally where the SDF was launched … the lives of six Cameroonians ushered in democracy to Cameroon.

·     Personal Freedoms: Freedom of assembly for religious purposes has been good but such is hugely undermined by freedom of individual expression. Biya’s men in uniforms has mightily clamped down on individuals who’ve voiced personal opinions on burning political issues in the country. Biya scores a D on this.
·    Political Freedoms: Though it is easy to form political associations in Cameroon, PAP notes that the proliferation of political parties is a Biya design to weaken the opposition. The intelligence unit of the PAP Strategic deciphers four categories of opposition political parties: satellite parties erected by Biya to spy on and weaken the opposition (some now called presidential majority), political parties for Business purposes (to enjoy campaign funds), real opposition political parties (those that are consistently banned such as PAP from public manifestations), parties that originally had good intensions but now cooperate with Biya’s CPDM to colour Cameroon’s democracy in the eyes of the international community;

-   Skyrocketing amounts are fixed for ordinary Cameroonians to cough out to register to run for council, parliamentary and presidential elections thus making the dividends of democracy for the rich only!
-  Election managing bodies (MINAT, NEO and ELECAM) are designed to rig elections for Biya;
-   Intimidation at the polls and vote buying: Vote buying is the norm. Citizens who stand up to the status quo are intimidated. There are clear and documented cases of elites protecting the regime getting into polling stations with guns and knives. These cases are not isolated. PAP scores Biya an F on EMB;
-    Protest Groups: No allowance for political manifestation against the regime.
                        PAP scores Biya an F on political freedoms
 Press Freedoms: There’s systemic clampdown on the press and the media in general. Twitter has consistently been shut down and press organs critical of the government are either severely sanctioned or bought over. PAP scores Biya an F on Press Freedoms.
 The Rule of Law: For the sake of justice, everyone must adhere to the same laws. These laws are known, predictable and impartial (unbiased). However, the justice system in Cameroon is highly rigged; justice is bought, the police and the magistrates/judges are the most corrupt in the world. Generally, the system is characterized by arrest without due process, endemic corruption, long term detention without trial, inhuman treatment and torture of citizens etc. PAP scores Biya F on the Rule of Law.
PAP therefore scores Biya an F on Democracy.
     To make this publication brief, we will provide explanatory notes for the reason behind the grades of every element. Find below grades per element: 

Elements

Score (%)
Grade

Domestic Affairs


Economy
15
F
Education
21
F
Health
20
F
Democracy
20
F
Energy
25
F
Security
30
E
Transportation
15
F
Communication
28
F
Sports
41
D



Foreign Affairs


International Cooperation
40
D
Akoson  Raymond,
PAP Secretary-General


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Cameroon: Anglophone Lawyers Prolong Strike by One Week Over Government's ''Divide and Rule Tactics'

* Urge traditional rulers to join them fight for their constitutional rights
By Christopher Ambe

Common law lawyers in Cameroon have celebrated the huge  success of their last week's  four-day sit-in strike rather with a prolongation.The announced extension of the strike  from Monday, October 17th to 21st  is intended  to mount more pressure on the Cameroon Government to critically look into their demands and react to them appropriately,instead of what the lawyers refer to as Government's  "Divide and Rule Policy"..
Shaken by the strike, Government reportedly was  trying to meet the lawyers demands but without total commitment,lawyers say.  Following is the communique issued to prolong the strike:

_________________________________________________________________________
JOINT COMMUNIQUE OF THE LEADERSHIP OF THE CONSTITUENT
ASSOCIATIONS OF CAMEROON COMMON LAW LAWYERS.


We thankfully congratulate members of our four Associations (FAKLA, MALA, MELA & NOWELA) for their heeding to the call to protest strike and observing it across the entire common law jurisdictions of the North West and South West Regions;

After duly evaluating the strike of 11th to the 14th of October 2016, and carefully deliberating on the way forward at the local levels of our various Constituent Associations, we have synchronized the common position which provides us with a consensual platform as follows:

1.      That on account to the deaf ear given to our protest strike WE HAVE UNANIMOUSLY AGREED TO EXTEND THE STRIKE FOR ANOTHER WORKING WEEK BEGINNING FROM MONDAY 17TH TO FRIDAY 21ST OF OCTOBER 2016;

2.      We note with regret that the Government instead of responding to our demands spice by the strike action is still employing its traditional policy of divide and rule. Consequently, we call on our members to remain resolute, determined, steadfast and focus and not to lend themselves to any Government manipulation;

3.      That a crucial enlarged meeting will be held in due course to decide on the next steps to be taken should the government continue to ignore our demands;

4.      That we shall be calling on all elected Public Representatives from the North West and South West Regions, to discharge their obligations to their constituencies which fall within the Common Law jurisdiction of North West and South West Regions to make their joint statements in the protection of the legal and legitimate rights of their constituents-cum-users of the Common law in Cameroon, failing which they shall be adjudged as haven compromised their representative positions vis-a-vis their constituencies;

5.      That we call on the members of the North West Fons’ Union to reassert and reconstitute their Union and stand up along the South West Chief’s Conference, as one person, to protect the children of their respective Fondoms and Chiefdoms in their efforts to protect their constitutional rights to have the common Law restored and protected;

6.      That we call on our sister syndicates, with similar sectoral plights to continue pursuing their demands trusting on the support of Cameroon Common Law Lawyers in any legal pursuit of their complaints, whether separately or jointly with us until such time that we would have exhausted local remedies within the national jurisdiction.

7.      We shall be synergizing  with SYNES, Cameroon Teachers’ Trade Union –(CATTU), Teachers Association of Cameroon (TAC), Traders Associations, Taxi Drivers Unions, Bus Companies, and Commercial Motorbike Riders’ Associations, as well as “Buyam Sellam” Associations, across the North West and South West Regions;


8.      We finally appreciate the understanding and cooperation of our clients and emphasize that they and us have a joint interest in protecting the common law. 

It should be noted that we are not against any personnel of the courts and consequently they are enjoined to eschew any hostility against us or our clients for they are better placed to understand the legality and legitimacy of our demands as corrective and protective measures in the recovery and rebuilding of judicial integrity and performance for the benefit of all out of our diversity.


DONE AT BUEA THIS 15TH DAY OF OCTOBER 2016
                                                                     
                            


         

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