By Macdonald Ayang, February 22, 2017
Cameroon Journal, Yaounde – Supreme Court President of Cameroon, Chief Justice Daniel Mekobe Sone, has said there is need for reform of the country’s judicial system so it meets the aspirations of citizens seeking genuine justice.
He also suggested that there is growing need for Cameroon’s laws to be adapted to the “changing times and social realities.”
The senior Judge was speaking yesterday Tuesday, February 21, in Yaounde during a ceremony at the Supreme Court to formally open the 2017 judicial year. He said such reforms are more necessary given that the role of the judiciary is to protect people’s rights and guarantee citizens’ easy access to justice.
In the address which he started in French and concluded in English, the Supreme Court chief equally decried the fact that “private justice” was gaining unprecedented ground in the country. He said the phenomenon of citizens taking the laws into their hands was unacceptable in a country that is supposed to be one of the rule of law.
“Private justice is manifesting itself in various forms…in any event; this cannot be tolerated in a state governed by the rule of law. Cameroon is endowed with institutions, laws and mechanisms for channeling grievances or claims. Perpetrators of private justice will be made to face the panoply of sanctions provided for by the laws of the republic,” he said.
Although, the Supreme Court head did not make allusion to any particular situation where citizens have taken the law into their hands, observers have, however, been quick to link the senior Justice’s comment to recent happenings in the North West and South West Regions where some individuals are reported to have engaged in acts of violence and public disturbance during a series of demonstrations. Some of the accused have been arrested and are facing trial at the Yaounde military tribunal.
Reiterating the need for respect of the rule of law, Chief Justice Mekobe Sone, appealed: “We should, however, draw lessons from this phenomenon (private justice). This is also a call for legislators to adapt our laws to the changing times and our social realities. The judiciary as a whole must conduct introspection in order to give justice an image that will inspire the confidence of the citizenry. It is only in this manner that we can limit private justice and encourage the rule of law in Cameroon…”
The solemn opening of the judicial year was a heavily-attended ceremony, amongst the many dignitaries, were the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril, the Prime Minister, Philemon Yang, President of the Cameroon Bar Association, Barrister Francis Jackson Ngnie Kamga as well as president of the General Assembly of the Cameroon Bar Association, Ntumfor Barrister Nico Halle.
Meanwhile, this year’s opening of the judicial year unfolded in the absence of Ayah Paul Abine, one of the Advocates General of the Supreme Court who is being detained at the Secretariat of State for Defense in charge of the National Gendarmerie, known by the French acronym, SED. Ayah’s arrest and detention was not a topic for discussion at the event.
Ayah, a former two-term Member of Parliament for Akwaya was picked up by security forces from his Yaounde-Tam Tam Weekend residence in the evening of Saturday January 21, 2017. The arrest came a day after he had reportedly turned down a summons to appear at the Gendarmerie headquarters.
Ayah is believed to have been arrested in connection with the crisis that has rocked the North West and South West Regions. Charges are yet to be brought against him.