The Anglophones of Cameroon: suffering from Policy and Systemic Issues

The Anglophones of Cameroon: suffering from Policy and Systemic Issues

N Melo
by N Melo
July 11, 2022 0

The Anglophones of Cameroon: suffering from Policy and Systemic Issues

Author: Nouridin Melo, PhD
Researcher, Lecturer & Content Writer


On November 21, 2016, Anglophone university lecturers and teachers held a strike, which halted education in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon. The strike forced Anglophone lawyers and educators to join forces and form the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium to dialogue with the government to seek a solution to the problems faced by Anglophone lawyers and teachers.

Anglophone crisis in Cameroon

The ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is having a serious effect on the country’s economy. While Cameroon’s Gross Domestic Product growth rate stood at 5.8% before the crisis, this figure has plummeted to 3.9 percent as of March 2019. The shutdown of the Internet is also impacting Cameroon’s economy, which is estimated to have cost the country CFA 499 billion ($846,930 million). Meanwhile, weekly “ghost towns” have slowed down the flow of goods and services. In addition, security forces are alleged to have vandalized market and business premises, causing further damage.

The Anglophone Crisis began in 2016, with peaceful protests by lawyers, teachers, and others. Protests were motivated by the repression of the Anglophone minority and an unresolved autonomy question. Historically, smaller Anglophone regions were separated from the rest of the country’s provinces. French and British colonial rule imposed linguistic divisions. The most obvious difference was the language.

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is a complex and multifaceted problem. While the government of Cameroon is ineffective at protecting its citizens, the Anglophone community has remained determined. A coalition of civic leaders and researchers has been formed to address the situation. The team comprises researchers from the University of Toronto, Leiden University, the Edinburgh International Justice Initiative, the University of Exeter, and the Anglophone Crisis Monitoring Project. It is composed of leading Cameroonian citizens who have no affiliation with any of the warring factions.

The government has responded to the crisis by proposing a two-billion CFA franc subvention to confessional schools. They also promised to recruit at least 1000 bilingual teachers. The government also produced an English version of the OHADA Uniform Act, which only existed in French. However, the CACSC refused to lift their strike call, demanding a two-state federation and a complete shutdown of all economic activities in the two Anglophone regions.

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is a symptom of an underlying issue in the country’s democratization process. It has exacerbated ethnic tensions and has resulted in the emergence of a more violent and polarised civil war. As a result, the government is facing a huge challenge to resolve. It must address the root causes of this crisis and ensure that it does not spiral out of control.

Anglophone lawyers challenge the government’s position on common law in Cameroon

Since the establishment of the Cameroon Common Law Bar Association on November 4, 2011, government officials have banned or imposed restrictions on several lawyer associations. According to Contra Nocendi, the restrictions are clear violations of human rights. In this article, we’ll discuss the consequences of these restrictions on the practice of common law in Cameroon. We’ll also examine what these restrictions mean.

The Cameroon Common Law Lawyers Association has issued a statement in which they demand equal rights, access to courts, and education for the country’s two major ethnic groups. The organization has been active for two years, and its members have sought to address the issue of common law marginalization in the Cameroonian court system. They also aim to preserve the Anglo-Saxon system of law.

The Anglophone problem in Cameroon has its roots in education. All seven legalised Anglophone teachers’ unions launched a campaign to end the unfair treatment of English sub-system in Cameroon. Separatists have threatened teachers and students with abduction and even murder. As a result, most educational institutions have been shut down, and over 780,000 children remain out of school.

The current situation in Cameroon is a crisis of human rights. The government has systematically denied the rights of its Anglophone population. This has resulted in the emergence of armed militias, resulting in a traumatised population caught between the government and separatist forces. Further, the Anglophone crisis is accompanied by widespread distrust of the security forces. In some Anglophone regions, the government even shut down internet access for 93 days to quell the dissent of its population.

The President of the Republic has reacted to the crisis by ordering the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee to review the issues of the judicial system. Several initiatives have been implemented since, including the appointment of an Anglophone Registrar at the ENAM. These reforms are welcome, but the government needs to act quickly. In the meantime, the current situation in Cameroon is not ideal for common law practitioners.

Anglophone lawyers challenge government’s position on common law in Commercial Code

The Anglophone legal community in Cameroon has been fighting the government’s efforts to introduce common law in the country’s commercial code. Although Cameroon has been a strong advocate of harmonized laws, some of the judges are French civil law trained. The government’s threat to dismiss judges who do not follow the laws of Cameroon’s common law system has sparked a debate among lawyers.

The French government’s OHADA treaty has shifted the focus of commercial law from common law to civil procedure. However, the OHADA law was only promulgated in September 1996, a landmark in the country’s bi-jurisdiction. In a case involving a common law-governed company, the government cited a French judgment in the case.

Anglophone lawyers fear same phenomenon will be observed in Commercial Code

The Anglophone lawyers of Cameroon are worried that the French Civil Code will be incorporated into the Cameroon Commercial Codified Law. They have criticized the government for the erosion of the common law, saying that it was the Francophones who replaced it with the French Civil Code. They regret the process. Lawyers have repeatedly complained to the competent authorities, but have yet to see any concrete action.

In 2016, a group of students, teachers and lawyers led demonstrations, which eventually engulfed a larger section of the population. They protested against the marginalisation of their group by the Francophone-dominated government, which has affected political appointments, education and justice. The demonstrations argued that the government was erasing vibrant economic and political institutions.

The government is trying to keep the country unitary by imposing the same anti-terror laws in the Anglophone-dominated region. However, the government is unwilling to release the Anglophones and has sent brutal security forces to harass them. They are not willing to listen to the rights of their fellow citizens. They must be free to live their lives, their children’s education and their rights.

The government did not want to destroy the Anglophone region, so it sent more than 5000 soldiers to suppress the protesters. However, the protesters did not stop until the government solved their problem. According to a report by France 24’s Zigolo, police were blowing lawyers with batons. The entire city was placed under lockdown, with Special Rapid Response in place to monitor the situation. The gendarmerie and policemen were standing guard, while anguished lawyers were forced to wear black robes.

Despite the economic crisis and political instability in Southern Cameroon, many Anglophones are seeking direct relationship to decisions in order to improve their standard of living. The Anglophone crisis, also known as the Southern Cameroon-Ambazonia crisis, revolves around the marginalization and dilution of their cultural identity at the hands of Francophones.

N Melo
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