By Paul Njie, In Buea
The Cameroon Bar Council has organised a five-day nationwide strike action, to protest the poor treatment of lawyers by state authorities.
The call for a general sit-in was made on Saturday August 31, following a meeting to evaluate the difficulties faced by lawyers in the practice of their profession.
In a two-page resolution signed by 13 members of the Cameroon Bar Council, the body frowned at the fact that some of their colleagues were brutally beaten recently by forces of law and order.
“In spite of previous complaints made, lawyers are continuously being threatened, arrested and detained in the course of exercising their functions,” the council noted with dismay.
“The Bar Council in protest, calls on all lawyers to observe a five-day sit-in strike beginning as from the 16th to the 20th day of September 2019,” the legal body resolved.
The council was also chagrined by the fact that lawyers are constantly being denied access to their clients in detention centres like the dreaded Secretariat of State for Defence (SED), gendarmerie brigades, police stations and prisons.
“The rights of accused persons protected by national and international instruments ratified by Cameroon are constantly and consistently being violated by judicial authorities.”
Litigants are tried in a language they do not understand; accused persons are brought to court naked; detention officials use force and torture to extract confessions from accused persons; frequent refusal by prosecutors to release detainees who have been granted bail or have been discharged by a court; and the demand for exorbitant fees and court charges, says the legal council.
The Minister of Justice, Laurent Esso is yet to react to the latest move from the legal council.
The recent resolution of the Cameroon Bar Council comes a few months after a college of lawyers of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement (CRM) Party decried the detention conditions of their clients, as well as the constant restrictions by authorities for the lawyers to access the detainees.