Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Kangaroo Courts of Cameroon


Bravo to the Bar Council led by Barrister Charles Tchongang and the Bar representative in South West: Barrister Innocent Bonu for coming to the defense of those rounded up during the strike. I commend lawyers Emmanuel Obi and Tanyi-Mbianyor S. Tabi for seeking justice where justice is being denied. Perhaps it is expedient to remind Magistrate Helen Egbe and the State Counsel Magistrate Mbu, Justices Sokem Mborh, Tayon Beatrice, Tanyi Patience and Esther Ayuk, State Prosecutor, Alfred Suh, Police officer Jacques Roger Mefire, Adjudant Chef Evaristus Ngong and Robertson Akolombi that denying justice to the oppressed may deny you a sound sleep at night and an payback from nature.
When trials are programmed without the knowledge of defense counsels the judiciary should dissociate itself from the executive bottlenecks since they are there to curb the excesses of the executives and legislators. They are there actually to interpret and implement the law and not abuse it; for that is abuse of the judiciary system. Magistrates Edward Forcheh, Moses Antunka Andu and James Ngong should be ashamed of themselves and people should take note of them. How do you jail anyone for six months with hard labor for marching? Accused without evidence or on evidence based on some government witness whom himself cannot be trusted is farcical trial. Who in Cameroon can trust the gendarmerie or police? If you say yes then tell me if any Cameroonian can give his beer, money or woman to any of these people in uniform? You leave them with your beer they will be walking with their knees, with your money they will charter the off license talk less of your wife or daughter you will not meet her underwear and bra on. Is that the type of people you want to take evidence from?
The culmination of ambushed trials, the lack of evidence with verdicts based on hearsays; in short the lack of due process warrants a dismissal of those cases. The accusations of obstructing the highway and destroying property would require simple evidentiary demonstration from the penal code which it fails to fulfill. If no barricade were mounted then the government lacks real evidence and even when the barricades are mounted, who would you accuse mounted those barricades in the absence of video evidence to zoom through the throngs. This lacks any demonstrative evidence to make a case against them. There are no pictures and signed affidavits by the accused for mounting the barricades for most were sleeping at the time the strike was going on. Even if they were out it is difficult to select the bee that stung you when bees do attack. As such the government will be forced to deal with testimonial evidence which will be based on those arresting officers.
Except you have never lived in Cameroon then you will know that you could be arrested for nothing. The police could arrest you for refusing to bribe him or her. How do you accuse and convict people for mounting barricades and destroying property despite their airtight alibis? Lacking any credibility such evidence from those officers should not be admitted at all in court. Laying the foundation of the case with no real evidence shows a weakness in the judiciary process of Cameroon. You are fining them when you have not given them any job? It should be noted that every evidence brought to court by the police or gendarme, and army is already biased and corrupted because these folks have been used to molesting the citizens for no cause and crime. The forces of law and order in Cameroon cannot be trusted.
The whispers between the judges and prosecutors portrays guilty until proven innocent. Nobody: not even Abia, should be used as a scapegoat when the wind of change is blowing around the world. The burden of proof lies with the crown and not the defense and the factors that may influence conviction are entirely absent. Rather than have the judiciary system side with the government, they should emulate the example of Pakistan. Rather than sit and watch their kids and grand kids die in the streets the teachers and professors in Cameroon should copy the examples of Mexican teachers who took to the streets themselves and fought with the police to bring better conditions in the country.
These strikes have revealed that it is difficult to dichotomize the law from the state and that the law does not protect the common man. Cameroon since the time of Ahmadou Ahidjo has functioned under kangaroo courts and hitherto it has not changed. One only wonders when it will end at a time when almost everyone is calling for justice. Perhaps we may remind every Cameroonian that though the law is blind the judges see and they mete their verdicts not by guilt but by dictats of the government. In other words the rule of law does not exist and so cannot prevail. In this light one has to question all the reports from Human Rights, Transparency International and government agencies singing the eulogies of Democracie Advancée in Cameroon. How can we talk of democracy when there is no freedom of demonstration, speech, and even lifestyle?
Therefore I call on CPDM America to voice their resistance against false arrests and imprisonments of law abiding citizens. I challenge the members of the CPDM Diaspora to defy the government's letter cajoling them to march in support of the change in constitution. Anyone going out to march for the CPDM on that day is marching to encourage an amendment of the constitution and which should be rejected by every rational and altruistic Cameroonian.
Until then, when the oppressed cannot sleep the oppressors too will not sleep for fear of the oppressed.

Prince & PA Hamilton Ayuk

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