In October 2016, members of the common law lawyers’ tradition in Cameroon, took to the streets to protest against what they term attempts to put them out of business. they complained that their clients were being deprived of fair trial due to the domineering presence of french – speaking magistrates in common law courts and insinuated that the common law system practiced in the north-west and south-west regions was being eradicated. the situation degenerated with time causing the Prime Minister and head of government philemon yang to travel to the north-west regional headqurters, bamenda, to meet the agrieved lawyers.
As the government promised to look into these issues, a few weeks later, the ohada business law which existed only in the french version was translated into english. a copy was handed over to the president of the bar association in Cameroon. three months later on march 30, 2017, the government, through, the Minister of state, Minister of justice and keeper of the seals, laurent esso, also president of the ad hoc inter- ministerial committee which was charged with making proposals to the government for effective solutions to be taken, announced a series of decisions taken by the head of state paul biya, to calm tensions created by the long-drawn absence of the lawyers in courts within the two Anglophone regions,the north west and south west. these include:
– The identification of english speaking magistrates capable of handling top posts in tge judiciary wing of the country, for future appointments.
– The eminent transfer of magistrates to their specific linguistic zones.
– The posting of magistrates to the north west and south west regions based on their mastery of the common law.
– The posting of magistrates only to regions where they master the official language dominantly spoken, irrespective of their regions of origin. and this is in line with worries to promote national integration.
– The creation of a faculty of law at the university of Buea, common law departments in the universities of Yaounde, Douala, Maroua, Ngaoundere and Dschang. plus the teaching of public law in the anglo-saxon universities of Buea and Bamenda. and
– The recruitment of more English- speaking teachers in the law department of the country’s school of administration and magistracy (ENAM) in a bid to step up the English teachers ratio of the school.
The cabinet ministers who are in charge of applying these measures where all present at a press briefing on march 30, granted by the Minister of state, Minister of justice and keeper of the seals, to announce these measures. their presence is a mark of the government’s willingness to deliver on the promises.
The measures are expected to pave the way for courtrooms to once more go operational in the north west and south west regions. the lawyers have welcomed the reforms as good for the proper functioning of the judiciary, expressing the wish to see the government speedily apply the Head of State’s instructions.