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Cameroon sets Commission to battle illegal detentions, arrests

Cameroon has set the stage for a Commission for the compensation of victims of arbitrary arrests and detention. The move is seen as reasonable feat in brightening the country’s human rights record that oftentimes draws condemnation from different quarters.

The 18-man Commission was installed during a solemn court session at the Supreme Court in Yaounde on Wednesday, August 8, 2018.

Commission memebers at Supreme Court After Installation

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Daniel Mokobe Sone opined that “nothing can be compared to the freedom of a citizen. Nothing must justify an abusive deprivation of this freedom,” the Chief Judge told the 18 members of the Commission.

Luc Njodo, Attorney General at Cameroon’s Supreme Court said, the Commission “hears complaints filed by victims of serious and actual harm resulting from the nonobservance of the legal provisions relating to police custody and pre-trial detention.” He said those installed must “repair the harmful consequences of the misconduct of public servants to whom the law gives power to order police custody and pre-trial detention,” Njodo charged.

Justice Francis Bekong Mbe Alemka is the Head of the 18-man Commission. The other 17 members comprised Judiciary Officers, Lawyers, Parliamentarians, Judicial Police Officers and Heads of Legal Divisions of some selected Ministries.

Victims of arbitrary arrests or illegal detention have a period of six months from the end of police custody to appeal before the Commission.
The Commission comes into function in line with the provisions of the 2005 Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) of Cameroon. It was put into force following a decision of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on January 3, 2018.

Honourable Bolevie Mbanya Member of the Commission told reporters shortly after the installation that the putting in place of the body will ease the administration of criminal justice in Cameroon. State authorities from different arms of the Government machinery witnessed the installation.

Cases abound in Cameroon of individuals claiming damages worth millions from the Government on grounds of arbitrary arrest and illegal detention. Some have even seized continental legal bodies and some arms of the United Nations (UN) to hear their cases.

Former Mayor of Mbanga in the Littoral Region, Paul Eric Kingue, is one of such. There is ace retired Supreme Court Judge and Politician, Paul Ayah Abine. Ayah was arrested some time ago within the context of the current Anglophone Crisis and detained for over 200 days. He regained freedom following a presidential fiat.

At the level of the common man, Cameroonians go through difficult experiences daily in the hands of corrupt judiciary and security officials. It is hoped that, the Commission’s presence will defend the right of millions of citizens caught in the trap of arbitrary arrest and detention.