Saturday, July 2, 2016

New Penal Code: Lawyers Barred, Human Rights Activists Murmuring over Gay Rights, Tenants Sacrificed

 The President of the Republic has poked CPDM foolish majority over the adoption of the new Penal Code proposed by government. This is following the adoption of the New Penal Code on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 and Tuesday, June 28, 2016, by both the National Assembly (Lower House) and the Senate (Upper House).  Allegedly, the strong signals emitted by Common Law Lawyers in Bamenda, Mamfe and Kumba as well as the walk-out staged by SDF, MDR Members of Parliament obliged President Biya to return the new Penal Code back to the National Assembly for a second reading. It should be noted that there was an uproar at the National Assembly by SDF, MDR Parliamentarian who were joined in the boycott one Parliamentarian of the ruling CPDM, Hon Martin Oyono.
SDF, MDR MPs alongside lone CPDM MP Stage walkout on Section 127
The foolish majority in the House
Members of the SDF parliamentary group, MDR and one firebrand MP of the ruling CPDM staged a walk out when the CPDM foolish majority stood against their demands the section that had to do with immunity for serving government ministers, removed.
Hon. Banadzem SDF Parliamentary group leader described the bill as obnoxious and added that the SDF will never be party to a bill that gives immunity to ministers, protects the rich against the poor etc. Hon. Martin Oyono, CPDM MP who refused to participate in the adoption, is being celebrated around the country for standing out of the madding crowd. The fact that Biya returned the Bill to Parliament gives credence to Hon. Martin Oyono who is quoted to have said that “The president has asked that Article 127 which grants immunity to members of the government be amended. It’s good to know that the person invoking immunity must demonstrate a law. In the current situation, the Cabinet members do not receive any legislation that gives them any immunity. For example, the president has immunity conferred by the Constitution; MPs enjoy immunity conferred by law. But members of the Government have no law which gives them immunity “. Martin Oyono is said to be the only MP of the party in power to say that it was illegal to adopt Article 127, which granted immunity to members of the government. He is also quoted to have said that “Members of the government are managers and as such, they answer to the Parliament, which is responsible for monitoring government action. If one is a manager and also has immunity, it means we are above the law. This violates even the preamble of the constitution of the Republic. This is why, during the debate, I said that I could not take the responsibility to vote a provision that is contrary to the constitution. So I’m just assuming my responsibility, “explained the Hon. Martin Oyono, stating that” it was the most villainous discussions in relation to the fight against corruption. ” Worthy to note that if this Bill was promulgated into law it would have been a license for ministers to commit financial crimes and go free. More than 40 former ministers are in prison for allegedly committing financial crimes.
Bamenda Kumba, Mamfe Lawyers Stage Street Protest
Lawyers decrying abuse of human rights
On June 23, 2016, Common Law lawyers in Bamenda took to the streets to express their disgust over the policy of punishment. Lawyers dressed in their official regalia, marched inside the rains from the High Court premises Up Station, to Down Town, passing through City Chemist to the Commercial Avenue and back to City Chemist before taking their stand. The lawyers in Kumba and Mamfe did the same and allegedly President Biya caught cold. “We are against laws conceived in French, debated in French, promulgated and translated in poor English to incriminate Anglophones”. The lawyers argued that the law that seeks to send all tenants into prison cells is a bad law. “If they want to incriminate the tenants for nonpayment of house, another law should be conceived to incriminate the state for nonpayment of salaries”, they argued.  To Pa John Kehya, the law themselves are in half harassed manner. He is said to be claiming 19 years rent from government for nonpayment of rents. Yet if Pa Kehya is brought before the law courts for owing house rent, he will be punished. For close to twenty years, this man has not been paid house rent. They are several cases like Pa John who are suffering silently yet would never benefit the law that protects only the rich. The truth is that several ministers who have looted state treasuries and invested in real estate want to protect their investment by sacrificing Cameroonians. That is why the lawyers who are considered to be the Voice of the Voiceless, the purpose of the protest was to make the public know that the bill that was obnoxious because it protects the rich and discriminates. “Lawyers have been docile and now we say no to the law that protects the rich”.
Activists Murmuring over Lesbianism/Gay Rights
Teneng Nelly Brown Mengwi
Though no one has made a public statement on the controversial New Penal Code, nothing has changed in relation to Section 347 which states that "whoever has sexual relationships with a person of the same sex shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to five years and a fine from 20.000 FCFA to 200.000 FCFA". Those caught in the act will be punished the same like tenants whose faith now depends on President Biya. It should be recalled that in 2011, two young men were sentenced to five years simply for being gay. Human Rights activist Me Alice Nkom, who of late was vocal in defending gay rights, is quoted to have said that "violent behavior against gay people has reached crisis level".
There is the pathetic case of Teneng Nelly Brown Mengwi who was arrested in 2012 and was almost killed for allegedly initiating young girls in Bamenda into lesbianism. In a desperate attempt to rescue her from mob justice, the father was severely beaten and he died after sustaining serious injuries. Matters came to a head when Nelly’s name resurfaced in another lesbianism scandal in 2014. Per the Penal code, she was going directly to prison but she allegedly escaped alongside the mother and siblings to an unknown destination. A manhunt by law enforcement officials to bring her to book did not yield any fruits. It is rumoured that the young girl escaped to Nigeria yet a family member is quoted as saying that they fear she might have been ambushed and killed by mob as in the African set up such practices are considered as a sacrilege. The number of young boys and girls who have disappeared mysteriously for practicing lesbianism or being gay has skyrocketed says Julius Ntamark Mbih, Human rights activist. However, Julius laments that it is disappointing that the new Penal Code still has the same shortcoming for not protecting the rights of gays and lesbians. He regrets that Cameroon which is hoping to emerge by 2035 could not embrace lesbianism and gay practices.
Lawyers Barred from Talking to Journalists
The President of the Bar Council has issued a release banning lawyers from making any public declarations to journalists. The release comes after lawyers threatened a nationwide strike to express their disgust over the controversial new Penal Code. Barrister Kamnga issued the released after lawyers in Bamenda, Kumba and Mamfe staged a protest march against certain articles of the penal code. However, classified sources linked to the Cameroon Bar Association have hinted that President Biya written to the Bar Association arguing them to stay away from street demonstration as it could lead to generalized crisis. Allegedly, President Biya in the letter promised that he will personally look into the issues raised by the lawyers. This is however indicative that it may take time for the President to promulgate into law the said Bill


When News Breaks Out, We Break In. (The 2014 Bloggies Finalist)

No comments: