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Human Rights Watch: Cameroon should allow lawyers carry out their job safely

Human Rights Watch Wednesday, September 2019, urged Cameroonian authorities to allow lawyers carry out their job safely.

The call comes in as Cameroonian lawyers are on day 4 of a five-day strike against the widespread of unbearable rights violations that include torture, illegal and prolonged detention of accused persons.

Lawyers in Cameroon say some of them have had to endure physical violence at the hands of authorities and have been consistently denied access to their clients.

In an article on its website, The rights watchdog reminded the Cameroonian government that “lawyers always have a critical role to play in protecting the rights of suspects in custody and defendants in court, and their role in protecting human rights is fundamental in the context of the current crackdown.”

“They should be allowed to carry out their jobs safely, without undue interference, and freely access their clients in custody in order to protect their rights and prepare their defense,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director the HRW.

“This strike should ring alarm bells over the lawyers’ inability to do so and the violations of detainees’ basic rights,” he added.

Nearly a million cases affected as lawyers strike

Lawyers in Cameroon announced the five-day strike early September, in a release signed by the Bar Council President Tchakounte Patie and 12 others, the lawyers said they have consistently been denied access to their clients and persons in the various detention centres.

Efforts by the government to talk them out of the strike failed as the Cameroon Bar Association ignored a September 5 resolution adopted during a meeting convened by the government for them to call it off.

It is worth noting that Cameroon’s President Paul Biya had given instructions for judicial processes to be sped up after prison riots last July over poor conditions in Kondengui and Buea Central prisons that included overcrowded detention centers.

Cameroon’s Minister Delegate to the Minister of Justice, Jean de Dieu Momo, says nearly a million cases that were to be heard in courts all over the country this week have been affected.

He offered reassurances to the lawyers, saying the government has called on the military, the police and others in the judicial system to immediately address the lawyers’ concerns.

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