Legal Cases

As of December 2013 ALL for Cameroon was handling over 350 cases in different areas of law: criminal (146 cases), recovery of debt (23), property (72), family (28), contract (12), labour (31), immigration (13), adoption (9), tribal (5), international (6) and 14 others (estate, and others). At least 179 cases were closed by December 2013.

The following are a selection of case summaries handled by the ALL for Cameroon office

Assault and torture cases

ALL for Cameroon's Head Barrister has successfully taken a number of cases of torture to the United Nations.
ALL for Cameroon’s Head Barrister has successfully taken a number of cases of torture to the United Nations.

Case: Man assaulted by soldiers.

In 1999 Mr. S. T. B. was assaulted by soldiers in a casino where he was working as a waiter in a town in the North West Region, Cameroon. Mr. S. T. B. was left permanently incapacitated, unable to walk again. ALL for Cameroon made two attempts to settle the matter through consultation, first with General M. of the Mezam battalion and then with the Minister of Defence, but when this did not work the case was taken to the Military Court. The soldiers were convicted and appropriately sentenced, and the state was held liable to pay Mr. S. T. B. thirty-one million CFA (approximately £44,000) in damages.

Case: Human Rights promoter beaten by a policeman.

In February 2005 Police Officer A. C. assaulted a human rights promoter causing 10% brain damage. ALL for Cameroon took the case to the Court of Fist Instance, where Police Officer A. C. was charged, convicted, and asked to pay damages of two million CFA (approximately £3000). This case is now awaiting appeal on grounds that the damages are too small in light of the harm caused and the strong evidence to support this.

Case: Man tortured and killed by village police; (UN Human Rights Committee Decision CCPR/C/91/D/1186/2003, given on 26th October, 2007)

In 1997 Mr. T. M. M. was detained in a cell where he was tortured by gendarmes (village police). Mr. T. M. M. was later transferred to a francophone prisons where he finally died. As Mr. T. M. M. opposed the ruling party and was charged with secession (attempting to separate the minority Anglophone areas from the majority Francophone Cameroon), an impartial judgment at the domestic level was unfeasible. This case was therefore taken to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, and in 2007 their decision held the Cameroonian government liable to adequately compensate Mr. T. M. M.’s family for his death. The family has given power of attorney to ALL for Cameroon’s voluntary human rights lawyer who was involved in the case from the day Mr. T. M. M. was arrested and is thus best placed to help with the negotiations. ALL for Cameroon is waiting for a response from the government to begin theses negotiations.

In August 2013 ALL for Cameroon, together with the visiting British MP, Alistair Carmichael, visited the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon in Yaoundé in order to force a breakthrough in the case. The Prime Minister now said that the Cameroonian government was going to conduct an investigation into the facts that led to the torture and death of Mr. Titiahonjo.

Case: Man tortured by a village cult.

In accordance with local group custom, Mr. S. A. faced pressure to succeed his father as head of the family by taking on all of his father’s responsibilities and the many wives he had left behind. When Mr. S. A. refused this custom he was habitually tortured by the village Kwifon (a cult society in the Fondom concerned). ALL for Cameroon worked with the relevant Fon (King) and, as the official leader of the cult, the Fon ensured the harassment stopped.

Case: Police Custody Assault

On 12th June 2012 ASA was summoned to the village Gendarmerie Brigade for a matter involving a family dispute.

One Gendarme officer was reading a letter that ASA could not understand.  When ASA asked him to explain the letter the Gendarme became angry and ferociously beat him, causing lasting damage to the right eye.

The Gendarme said he felt insulted by ASA.

Since then, ASA had been asked to report on a daily basis to the Belo Gendarmerie, while his National Identity Card is still in the keeping of the Gendarmes.

ASA risked travelling without an identity card to visit the ALL for Cameroon office to report the behavior of the Gendarmes on 20th June 2012. His left eye was still in a very bad condition. We advised him to seek immediate medical attention and then helped him to file a complaint at the State Council.

ALL for Cameroon will continue to follow up this complaint.


 

Corruption & Bad Governance Cases

Interns from the Washington College of Law enjoying the view from the Judge's Bench, with a francophone Judge and Barrister from ALL for Cameroon.
Interns from the Washington College of Law enjoying the view from the Judge’s Bench, with a francophone Judge and Barrister from ALL for Cameroon.



Case: Bailiffs’ refusals to execute a court judgement against state actors.

In 1993 a decision was given by a High Court, affirmed by the Court of Appeal, holding the Senior Divisional Officer (an appointed government official) responsible for wrongful dismissal of Mr T. B. who worked for a local council. Mr. T. B. was awarded 42,998,539 CFA (approximately £60,000) in damages however, the government refuses to execute the judgement, and bailiffs refuse to enforce a judgement against the state, whom they are employed by. A further judgement from the African Commission at Banjul, Gambia on 23/08/2004 has calculated the amount of damages to have increased to 884,451,071 CFA because of time past since the initial ruling in 1986. In attempt to exhaust local remedies, agents of ALL for Cameroon are in discussions with representatives from the Ministry of Territorial Administration to enforce this judgement.

Mr. T. B.  suffered more than 30 years, not being able to provide for his family. He died in complete poverty on the 30th of November 2013. ALL for Cameroon will continue these actions and urge the government to pay the damages to the family of Mr. T. B., and in doing so uphold the rule of law in Cameroon.

Case: Taxi-driver killed by a police officer

On 25th May 2010 a taxi- bike driver, Mr N. N. E., instantly died when a police officer beat him for allegedly refusing to pay a bribe. ALL for Cameroon was approached by the deceased family’s lawyer to help assist with this matter; primarily because of the specialist expertise of ALL for Cameroon’s voluntary lawyer. Agents of ALL for Cameroon have collected statements and opened a file to assist the lawyer working on this case.

Case: Widow’s plight to access her late husband’s pension

Since 2005 Ms. B. E. has been trying to access her late husband’s (a civil servant’s) pension. Inability to do so has resulted in her having to pull her children out of school as she has no way of paying the fees. In 2010 Ms. B. E. came to ALL for Cameroon for assistance.

It has emerged that Ms. B. E. had unknowingly made a series of unofficial payments to a clerk in the Court of First Instance who had promised to obtain all of the required legal documents to access the pension. In actual fact nothing had been done with Ms. B. E.’s file and, even worse, it seems that the clerk has lost the file with the marriage and death certificates inside. The clerk had refused to allow Ms. B. E. to make copies of the documents, which will make them very difficult to replace.

The clerk has agreed to replace the missing documents, and to return all unofficial payments made to her. ALL for Cameroon will then be able to help Ms. B. E. access dues owed.

Case: Fake receipts issued by a local council

Ms. F. J. purchased a market shed from a city council in 2003 but has still not received the property. As this money was borrowed from a village group, Ms. F. J. is required to pay back the money with interest; something which she is struggling to do without a means of earning a living. In 2010 Ms. F. J. brought her case to ALL for Cameroon who helped her to draft an official recorded complaint to the council. Despite having to pay 1000 CFA to submit the complaint, months passed with no response.

When agents of ALL for Cameroon were finally able to meet with the Secretary General of the council (a civil servant working in the council), it transpired that thousands of people are in the same position as Ms. F. J.: many have paid money to the council but have not been given the promised property. Furthermore, some of the complainants have been issued fake receipts from the council, Ms. F. J. included.

ALL for Cameroon succeeded in lobbying the local council to address this issue, which resulted in a radio broadcast urging people affected to visit the council to be issued new receipts. The council will then assess how many people are involved, and decide on a course of action.

Case: Money owed to retrenched council workers

In 1993 local council workers were retrenched and did not received the full amount owed to them for their services rendered. Despite numerous letters written by the Workers’ Union and the a highly influential government worker, the council concerned has not taken any measures to satisfy the money owed, and has not responded to the letters. ALL for Cameroon has written a complaint to the present Government Delegate on behalf of the retrenched workers, and will pursue legal action if no response is given.

Case: Police corruption and mob justice

A bike was stolen from a taxi-bike rider in Belo in the North West Region, and during the robbery the driver was killed.  Two other taxi-bike riders opted to follow up and together they found the thief who had killed their colleague.  The two drivers took the suspect to the local village police.

While the suspect’s case was pending in the brigade the family of deceased became angry. A mob was formed and went to go to the brigade with a view to administer ‘mob justice’.  On reaching the brigade, it transpired that the brigade commander and the suspect had disappeared.

The mob considered this a usual case of a commissioner bribed to let a suspect go.  They became angry and in their fury they burnt down the brigade.

The gendarmes arrested the two bike boys who originally brought the suspect to the brigade, and they were subsequently accused of the burning down the brigade.  These two men have been charged with destroying public property.  ALL for Cameroon is defending these two bike-riders currently detained in the Bamenda Central Prison.


 

Land & Property matters

Bamenda city

Case: Land taken by government official and denied access to justice

Since 1990 Mr. M. J. F. has been trying to access land which was taken from him by a Divisional Officer (an appointed government official that is above the mayor in hierarchy). Despite having paid exorbitant fees to the Land Consultative board to hear the mater on three occasions, no decision has ever been given. The Land Consultative Board is the authority with jurisdiction to hear land matters; their decisions can then be taken to the court of appeal. This board however, is headed by the Divisional Officer and so a decision in Mr. M. J. F.’s favour is unlikely. ALL for Cameroon is searching for funds to help Mr. M. J. F., who cannot even afford transport out of the village, obtain a decision from the Land Consultative Board, so that this protracted case can finally be taken to the courts.

Case: Land taken and access to justice denied

Since 1994 Mr. A. D. N. has been trying to reclaim land taken from him by force in 1994. Mr. A. D. N. has for more than two decades endured difficulties within the legal system, including numerous adjournments (all of which he had to pay for), and absent lawyers. By the time Mr. A. D. N. approached ALL for Cameroon in 2010, he was very confused about what to do. ALL for Cameroon’s agents explained the case to him, and advised him to ask his lawyer to apply to the courts to release the matter so that a decision can be given. Mr. A. D. N. has requested that ALL for Cameroon work with his lawyer to ensure the case is properly handled, and to help him to understand the legal issues.

Case: Cattle grazer & farmer dispute

Mr. M. A., a cattle grazer, approached All for Cameroon in 2010 with a letter, written by a powerful neighbour that claimed Mr. M. A.’s cattle had destroyed crops on his land and Mr. M. A. must therefore pay him 600,000 CFA (almost £1000) in damages. ALL for Cameroon helped Mr. M. A. draft a response, and informed him that a person cannot demand damages without proof that damage had been caused by the defendant. This matter has now come to an end following the letter sent by Mr. M. A.

Case: Property destroyed by fallen tree

A eucalyptus tree planted on land owned by the Catholic Church fell onto neighbouring land, destroying Mr. B. J.’s house. Mr. B. J. had asked Church representatives to cut the tree down because of the danger it posed, but his pleas were ignored. Being of the Catholic faith, Mr. B. J. hoped that the matter could be settled amicably, and as such has written five letters since 2004 to the Church agents, but has again been completely ignored. ALL for Cameroon are assisting Mr. B. J.’s efforts to settle this matter amicably before resorting to legal action.

Case: Community land illegally sold to a powerful national businessman

A traditional village council approached ALL for Cameroon claiming that a large area of community land had been illegitimately sold to an influential businessman by the late Fon (King). An agent of ALL for Cameroon was invited to witness the disputed piece of land and to observe the natural boundaries, made with trees and plants, of those who had been evicted. The village council thought that a judgement had been made in their favour; however, the judgement favoured the villagers on a point of law only, and the case now needs to be taken back to court. ALL for Cameroon have offered to assist the community with this case.

Case: Land dispute resulting in death

NM’s father died when he and his siblings were young.  NM’s mother and her children were chased out of the family house by the deceased’s uncle.  The uncle also took over NM’s father’s land.

When NM came of age a family meeting was held.  It was decided that a piece of land should be given to NM.  Despite the decision of this family meeting, NM’s uncle continued to encroach on NM’s newly acquired land.  NM therefore started building in order to stop his uncle claiming anymore land from him.

During the course of the building NM dug a trench at the side of the house.  The uncle argued that this trench was on his land.  The uncle, the uncle’s son and his two wives, attacked NM.  In self-defence, NM picked up a stick and hit the uncle.  The uncle later died.  NM was charged with assault occasioning death.

The kwifon (a secret cult in the village) put an injunction order over NM’s house, saying that because someone died the house and land are now in control of the kwifon.  NM’s young wife and her new born have gone to live with her parents.  They risk losing everything.  ALL for Cameroon is defending NM and his young family.

Case: Inter-Village Conflict between Finge and Bambui

Bambui village and Finge village were neighbours.  At one time the Bambui Fon wanted to extend his powers in order to become a first class chief in the North West.

To become a first class chief the Fon of Bambui needed to exercise control over a greater number of people and a larger amount of territory.

The Fon of Bambui therefore tried to conquer the Finge village, a spate ethnic group with its own Fondom.  The Fon of Bambui claimed their land, and a war issued.  Many people were killed and a great amount of property in Fengui was destroyed.

A criminal action against the Bambui fighters was filed and the perpetrators were convicted and sentenced.

ALL for Cameroon is assisting Finge with a civil claim for compensation for the damage caused.

Case: Inter-Village Conflict between Oku and ‘Nso Fondoms

Activity on a disputed piece of land, situated in the village of Tadu in the Tankiy subdivision, is currently prohibited by Prefectorial Order No. 87/2004, issued by the Senior Division Officer for the Bui Division.  This order decrees that ‘all activities of any nature on the disputed piece of land in Tadu between farmers in Kumbo and Oku subdivisions [be] suspended until further notice.’

Contrary to this Order, building work on the disputed land appears to have commenced.  According to numerous complaints lodged by members of the Kumbo Central Subdivision, Bui Division, the land at Tankiy Tadu has been illegally allocated for the purposes of an Oku Community Project.  The recent detention of Wirmgo Isaac, Wirba Leonard Mbalai, and Wirsiy Edwin Kumo, all Banso men detained in the Oku Gendarmerie for allegedly destroying foundations of a school recently laid on the said piece of land, reinforces these complaints.

We are particularly concerned that the Prime Minister’s name has been invoked by gendarmes involved in this matter.  As the Prime Minister comes from Oku, his name is being used to justify development of the Oku Community Project irrespective of due process of law.

Given the longstanding, highly sensitive nature of the ‘Nso-Oku land dispute, and the grave potential for a violent escalation of the conflict, it is our conviction that adherence to the injunction order, and the cessation of activities and construction, is the single best way to maintain peace in the region, until boundaries are drawn and the dispute is officially resolved by the relevant authorities.

ALL for Cameroon has an appointment with the Prime Minister to ask for his intervention.

Case: Family land conflict / murder accusations

R is being harassed by his rich cousin who wants to take over R’s fathers land, who died as a result of assault by the same cousin. There are 5 outstanding cases, involving the murder of the father by the cousin, violence of an injunction order by the cousin, threat of life by the cousin, defamation by R and assault of the cousin by R. Judgment has been entered in our favor in two cases against the cousin (violation of prefectorial order and threat of life). The cousin was sentenced to imprisonment and paying a civil claim in both cases.  In one of the other cases, Neba was discharged and acquitted for defamation. The case of the murder of the father and the alleged assault by R on the cousin is still pending in Court.

Case: Family land conflict

R’s father died on the 3rd of November 2006, his mother just some two months later. Their land, the land where R was raised, was occupied by the aunt and her brother.

R filed a complaint and a notice to quit was given to the aunt and her brother, who were ordered to leave the property the 30th of June 2011 and a warrant of arrest dated the 28th of September 2011 was ordered. Both the notice to quit and the warrant of arrest were illegal, in that they were ordered by the State Counsel, who does not have that authority.

A complaint was then filed to the National Commission on Human Rights dated the 18th of June 2012, who then brought the case to our office.  ALL moved the Court to order that the aunt and brother should leave the premises. The case is still pending. Up till date the aunt and her brother still occupy the land and R, more than 7 years after the death of his parents, is still hoping to return to his home. He and his two little sisters currently live in a small house with a friend.


 

Gender specific cases

ALL for Cameroon facilitate discussions and seminars on women's rights for village and urban groups.
ALL for Cameroon facilitates discussions and seminars on women’s rights for village and urban groups.

Case: A case of rape

In April of this year a girl was raped by her High School teacher and came to ALL for Cameroon for assistance. Although the teacher did not deny his crime, there was little evidence to support the claimant’s case in court: the medical legal report was obtained two weeks after the incident had occurred because of the high cost; the other teachers in the school were made aware of the incident but urged the girl that she was wicked if she could not forgive the teacher involved; other girls claimed that they too had been raped by the teacher, yet none were willing to testify to this; the girl had been sexually active before this incident occurred, a taboo in Cameroon that she would likely be stigmatised for; the courts are notorious for their insensitivity in rape cases; and cases in Cameroon can take decades to complete. If the girl did loose the case, she would be liable to pay damages to the teacher. Therefore, on behalf of the girl ALL for Cameroon accepted the teacher’s proposal to enter an engagement to pay damages to her as a way of avoiding the courts.

The teacher took, completely at his own will and in his own words, an engagement ‘recognising the gravity of (his) actions towards (the girl)’ and undertaking to pay her ‘damages for the trauma she has gone through’. If the teacher honours this, the girl will have enough money to pay for a University degree, which she would otherwise be unable to afford even though she achieved the highest marks in her school for the GCE examinations. Should the teacher fail to honour his engagement, ALL for Cameroon will take the case to court on the girl’s behalf.

The case file will be submitted to the state council for further action should the state decide to take this criminal matter further, and to ensure a record is kept of the crime that occurred.

Case: Domestic abuse

A man visited the ALL for Cameroon office to share his concerns about his daughter who is habitually snake-beaten (furiously beaten to near death) by her husband. Agents of ALL for Cameroon listened till the man exhausted all of his worries, and then informed him of the legal rights of his daughter and her children in light of the customary norms.

Case: Woman denied the right to inherit her deceased husband’s property

A woman and her three children were forced out of the family home by her brother in law when her husband died. The late husband had known that he was HIV positive but, instead of informing his wife, he travelled eight hours to the capital for treatment. It was only after he died that the woman discovered she and her children were also HIV positive. ALL for Cameroon is helping the woman, who is struggling to pay hospital bills, to have her inheritance rights recognised.

ALL for Cameroon’s handling many more cases of a similar nature.


 

Cases concerning children’s rights

Child in Cameroon

Case: Child abuse

An independent volunteer working in a civil society organisation referred a case involving child abuse to ALL for Cameroon. The children involved were not being fed, were covered in jiggers (maggot lava under the skin), forced to work instead of going to school, and made to carry heavy loads to the local market. ALL for Cameroon’s agents advised on the legal rights of those involved, and helped to draft a letter to the Social Welfare Department.

Case: Detained street children

In 2006 homeless children sleeping in a town stadium were arrested and taken to the city prison. ALL for Cameroon’s voluntary lawyer visited the Governor of the Prison to argue for the children’s release. This intervention was successful. Now ALL for Cameroon are working with a local NGO to provide assistance to the growing number of street children in towns in Cameroon.

Case: Reapeated rape of a Minor

A 22-year-old man raped a child of 4 years old in Bamenda. When the parents of the girl discovered this, they took the man to the police.  The accused said evil spirits shadow him and he has to have sexual intercourse with a baby before the spirit can let him rest.

The Grandfather, being a pastor, did not want to go to court.  The Grandfather therefore approached ALL for Cameroon to do everything possible to settle the matter outside of court.

During investigations ALL for Cameroon discovered that the man had also raped four other children.  None of the other parents were ready to speak out.

ALL for Cameroon convinced the pastor to take the matter to court as this will be the only way to protect other children in the quarter.

Case: Child rape and pregnancy misdiagnosis

Joy during her final days at the hospital, together with her grandmother. This photo is shown with the support of the family in Joy's memory. ALL for Cameroon's deepest sympathies are with the family.
Joy during her final days at the hospital, together with her grandmother.  ALL for Cameroon’s deepest sympathies are with the family.

Joy, an 8 year old girl, was brought to the ALL for Cameroon office by her grandmother in November 2013. Joy was raped by a teenage boy from her quarters.

Joy was first diagnosed as being pregnant, but further investigations contradicted this diagnosis and confirmed the presence of an undifferentiated cancer in her belly.

Unfortunately, Joy lost the long struggle against the cancer and died on the 22nd of December 2012. A reconciliation meeting was held in the ALL-office in the presence of the parents of the boy, the grandmother of Joy and the quarter-head. They agreed on a settlement, paid in monthly instalments to the grandmother.

Case: Child rape and permanent long-term damage

ALL for Cameroon was informed by the parents of of a 7 year old girl, that she was raped by a 30 year old man, who they identified. The medical report, that was carried out on the girl, stated that the child is having a partial incapacity of 30% because of forceful vagina penetration. She is equally and presently having difficulties in retaining urine. ALL laid a complaint against the man. In the course of proceedings, it transpired that the accused was living with a mental disability and the family accepted an amicable settlement, i.e. paying for the medical treatment of the girl.

Case: Mistreatment of 2 minors

Our client, J, was cohabiting with a woman for over 9 years in Yaoundé and they had two children (5 and 3 years). The woman left the family to go and live in Douala. Our client thought that the two children were too young to live with him alone, so he took them to the mother, while promising that he would assist financially. The woman collected the two children and abandoned them on the street. A passerby found the children and brought them to the mother of our client. The children became sick and one of them died and the other became disabled. On the day of the burial, the mother brought her family and provoked a fight. Our client laid a complaint at the police and while the complaint was pending, the woman came in the absence of our client and relatives and collected the lone surviving child. By doing so, she deprived the child of the necessary drugs and special shoes for the child. The State council ordered that the child should be giving back to the father. Custody was given to the father to enable the child to have access to proper medical care. The young boy (picture) now lives in Yaoundé with the father.

mistreatment  medical


 

Prisoners rights

Prisoners in Bamenda wait in the prison van until they are called to appear before the High Court.
Prisoners in Bamenda wait in the prison van until they are called to appear before the High Court.

Case: Defending four out of nine young men accused of killing a policeman in an act of lynch mob justice, with only hearsay evidence to convict the accused. It has transpired that as a result of the policeman’s death, in March 2010 a young man was beaten to death in police custody, which remains unreported. ALL for Cameroon is also helping the family in this latter case.

Case: Minor detained for ten months accused of stealing a football

 NF spent 10 months in prison, accused of stealing a football.  NF’s family was too poor to afford a lawyer and so his case was never sent to court.  During his 10 months imprisonment, NF’s father died, leaving him orphaned.

The Administrator of Bamenda Central Prison, having seen the work of ALL for Cameroon, drew their attention to this case.  ALL for Cameroon pushed for the case to go to court, and when it was to be adjourned, they urged the President of the Court of First Instance to take immediate action to have the boy released.  As a result of these efforts, NF’s case was dismissed and he was immediately released.

ALL for Cameroon now hopes to help NF find his feet and learn a trade.

Case: 18 year old girl detained for not having an ID card          

On Sunday 21st August 2011, ALL for Cameroon was informed by one Priest of a 19-year-old girl detained for not having an ID card.  BIM had served 3 months of a 6 month, 20 day sentence.  BIM, her late father and mother bedridden, was unable to pay the 60,000 francs cfa fine (approximately £90) to enable her release.

ALL for Cameroon visited BIM in prison early on Monday 22nd August.  BIM was in a distressed state, shaking, crying and clutching a bible in her hands.  The rest of the day, ALL for Cameroon urged the courts to reduce BIM’s fine to 40,000 francs cfa (taking into account time she had served in prison), and then paid the fine on BIM’s behalf.  5pm that same day, ALL for Cameroon succeeded in having BIM released.

When BIM’s father died, she was removed from school and sent to work as ‘house help’ (a cleaner/cook) for a family.  As such, the Priest who informed ALL for Cameroon about this case has opted to pay school fees to enable BIM to return to school this September.

On Sunday 21st August 2011, ALL for Cameroon was informed by one Priest of a 19-year-old girl detained for not having an ID card.  BIM had served 3 months of a 6 month, 20 day sentence.  BIM, her late father and mother bedridden, was unable to pay the 60,000 francs cfa fine (approximately £90) to enable her release.

ALL for Cameroon visited BIM in prison early on Monday 22nd August.  BIM was in a distressed state, shaking, crying and clutching a bible in her hands.  The rest of the day, ALL for Cameroon urged the courts to reduce BIM’s fine to 40,000 francs cfa (taking into account time she had served in prison), and then paid the fine on BIM’s behalf.  5pm that same day, ALL for Cameroon succeeded in having BIM released.

When BIM’s father died, she was removed from school and sent to work as ‘house help’ (a cleaner/cook) for a family.  As such, the Priest who informed ALL for Cameroon about this case has opted to pay school fees to enable BIM to return to school this September.

Case: Release of an 18 year pregnant woman from prison

M, 18 years old and 4 months pregnant, was detained in Bamenda Central Prison, accused of having kidnapped a child.  Bearing in mind prison conditions, where tuberculosis and other such illnesses run rife, ALL for Cameroon fought to have M released on bail, and are now representing her for free.

In the course of investigations, M claims she, along with 10 other young people, was initiated into a sect at the age of 15 by a woman who orders them to steal children.  ALL for Cameroon’s legal advisors are in the process of following up these claims.

Case: Rehabilitation for child prisoner

AC, 15 years old and orphaned, was detained in Bamenda Central Prison, accused of petty theft.  As his case is being heard in Batibo, one hour from Bamenda, AC was unable to afford his transport costs to attend his hearing, and hence the case was consistently adjourned.

ALL for Cameroon successfully applied for bail and found a neighbour willing to act as surety and take AC into their care.  AC is presently being trained by this carer in metal works.

Case: Mistreatment of orphan

ALL for Cameroon’s attention was brought to mistreatment of orphans taking place in an orphanage in Batibo, North-West Region. ALL for Cameron was informed that the children in this orphanage were being harassed and not well fed. They were subjected to certain believes, for example that the proprietor of the orphanage was God the Father. Summer described it as a cult. Any disrespect for the proprietor amounted to disrespect to God. Children should not go to church and not celebrate Christmas. The children were disciplined harshly if they did not obey.

One teenager in particular was held by four men  while being wiped by the proprietor. The young woman involved had several scars on her legs and on her back. The young girl was taken by an American volunteer, Summer, to the Good Shepherd Home orphanage in Bamenda. ALL filed a complaint against the orphanage in Batibo. Summer and the reverent sisters of the orphanage in Bamenda were then convoked and charged for abduction, defamation and threat of life. As a result of the intervention of ALL, the charges were withdrawn. The complaint from ALL on behalf of Summer against the orphanage in Batibo is still pending.


 

Disability Rights Case

Case: DN was living in Denmark but as a result of mental illness he was offered compensation to be voluntarily repatriated to Cameroon.  DN agreed to be repatriated and compensation was to be paid in instalments.

The first instalment was paid to DN’s mother, but DN complained that his mother was not allowing him access to the funds.  DN therefore found a ‘friend’ who would accept money in their account in return for a share.   When the second instalment came, the ‘friend’ tried to keep all of the money.

Investigations by ALL for Cameroon brought to light the fact that the ‘friend’ was using two names, one on his identity card and a different name for the bank account.  This was reported to the police who arrested the man and discovered him to be a scammer.

ALL for Cameroon concentrated on the debt recovery side, and once the money was returned to DN, ALL for Cameroon helped him to open an account in his name for subsequent payments.


 

Political Cases

Barrister Mbinkar Caroline briefing clients outside the court house in Kumbo.
Barrister Mbinkar Caroline briefing clients outside the court house in Kumbo.

Case: In 2011, 15 people  in Kumbo were arrested during a private house gathering, the eldest being 81 years of age.  The accused were detained, and then charged with unlawful assembly on account of their affiliation with the SCNC political party.  ALL for Cameroon succeeded in releasing all 15 of the accused on bail, and won the case against them.

Case: The Aku Community Land Case

ALL for Cameroon office members with the representatives of the Aku community in Wum.
ALL for Cameroon office members, Barrister Mbinkar Caroline and Davy Van der Beken, with representatives of the Aku community in Wum.

ALL considers the defence of the rights of indigenous people, as well as their empowerment, fundamental to its existence.

The Aku community lives in Wum, a small village just 80 km north of Bamenda. They face discrimination in everyday life, including the judicial system.  By giving these people a voice in the judicial system and by attending, on several occasions, meetings they organize, ALL tries to make a difference.

ACUDA (Aku Cultural and Development Association – composed of members of the Aku Community) was created in 2012 and represents the needs and desires of the Aku Community in Wum.

In August 2013 a meeting was organized in the ALL for Cameroon office, where the Aku Community was invited to explain to the British MP and the representative of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms the difficulties they face as well as how they see the way forward.

The Aku Community in discussion with the British MP.
The Aku Community in discussion with the British MP.

Thanks to the empowerment of the Aku Community through ACUDA and ALL for Cameroon, the case load against people from the Aku Community in Wum has dropped significantly. A clear sign that authorities as well as inhabitants of Wum are taking the Aku Community more seriously and start to accept their cultural identity.

Case: Miscarriage of justice (4.5 years detention without trial and subsequent aquittal)

Somebody was attacked by armed robbers. The robbers went drinking in the village after the attack. They met K.P. in the drinking spot and one of the armed robbers asked him to lend him a pair of shoes, because the one he was wearing got bad. K.P.  accepted and the armed robber offered him a drink in appreciation. After due investigation the police arrested the armed robber and discovered that he had been drinking in the company of K.P. The police now started looking for K.P.  When he got the information, he went to the police himself where he was incarcerated and brought to the prison in Bafoussam. ALL met K.P. in prison after two years without trial. ALL instituted proceedings that ended in him being convicted for ten year imprisonment. ALL went on appeal and the judgment of the trial got quashed and K.P. was acquitted. K.P. served a total of 4.5 years in prison when he was finally released.


 

 

Community Health

Prudence and her assistant Emmanuel at Victory Pharma.
Prudence and her assistant Emmanuel at Victory Pharma.

Case: Victory Pharma

Victory Pharmaceuticals Limited is a company that wants to acquire and market drugs in Cameroon at affordable prices. They want to liaise with other public and private agencies to make pharmaceuticals affordable and available in rural communities in Cameroon. After years of struggle in vain to incorporate the company, ALL for Cameroon decided to help this company in the bureaucratic process. Most drugs are sold in the black market, because only a few companies have received the authorization to import drugs into Cameroon. Because of the quasi-monopoly positions of these pharmaceuticals, drugs are very expensive. We believe that the formation of this company will help those who can’t afford drugs.

Having fullfilled the legal conditions governing the practice of Pharmacy in Cameroon for setting up a pharmaceutical wholesale establishment, Prudence Lepkunga Ongey filed in an application dated 16th January 2007. The filing was completed upon demand the 7th of December 2007. The file was send to the Ministry of Public Health in January 2008. There was no further information until the 18th of November 2010, when the Pharmacists Council decision authoring private practice was issued, but no mention was made of the Ministerial Decision which is indispensable for importation, the mainstay of the practice in view. On the 6th of June 2013 an enquiry visit was paid to the ministerial department processing the file and technical issues were mentioned as reasons for the stagnation. It was noted that no letter of notification had been served over the years and a promise was made by the officials responsible to compile all the abnormalities and communicate for action. Documents not found in the file, though submitted in 2007, were resubmitted for completion.

Further enquiry due to failure to receive the letter of notification a month after the above visit revealed that the file was found to be void of any technical complaint requiring amendment as earlier alleged and was due immediate transmission to the next quarters of the Ministry. From several enquiries over the following three months, the file was rather said to be undergoing processing before transmission.

On Tuesday 27th August 2013 ALL, together with British Minister presented the matter to the Prime Minister, who promised to open investigation. Finally a letter was signed by the Minister of Public Health on Monday the 11th November 2013 in response to the 16th January 2007 application for an authorization to establish a wholesale pharmaceutical company and was dispatched. He requested that the name of the company  VISION PHARMACEUTICALS LIMITED incorporated in 2006 be change in order to avoid conflict with that of an existing company in the country and that the following documents should be submitted: Articles of Association bearing the company’s new name, the Pharmacy Board’s requirements for application to practice privately and certificates of attestation of Pharmacy Board Registration of the company’s founders.

The company was renamed VICTORY PHARMACEUTICALS LIMITED, reincorporated and all the above documents compiled in record time and submitted on the 20th November 2013 to the Minister of Public Health. Exactly one month thereafter it is a serious cause for concern that no response  has been received to bring to an end the very devastating moral and economic effects of several years of delay.

Meanwhile Prudence remains without an income, while she has been spending hundreds of thousands CFA’s the past 7 years (taxes of the business license,  investments, business trips to India, intelligence for business plans,…).

 

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A legal aid NGO in Cameroon supporting accessible justice for all

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