Senior Equinox Journalist Prince Nfor Hanson is reporting that Cameroons strongman President Paul Biya has sent back the controversial Penal Code Bill to the National Assembly for a second reading. The review of the controversial Penal Code will focus most especially on Article 127 which gives immunity to members of Government.
Article 127 of the controversial penal code earlier read ” Any judicial, legal or investigating police officer who in violation of any law conferring immunity prosecutes, arrests or tries a member of the government or of parliament, shall be punished with imprisonment for from 1 (one) to 5 (five) years.”
The new provision now reads ”Any Judicial, legal or investigating police officer who prosecutes, arrests or tries anyone in violation of laws conferring immunity shall be punished with imprisonment from 1(one) to 5(five) years.” The word MEMBERS OF GOVERNMENT has been withdrawn from the original. The National Assembly is expected to sit in the days ahead to review this article.
It should be noted that the Bar Council had on Tuesday 28th June 2016 held an extraordinary session in Douala where they stood firm and declared as follows:
A. The PENAL Code presented violates international conventions.
B. The PENAL Code is different from what was presented to the Bar in December 2011.
C. The new PENAL CODE has discriminatory justice.
D. Puts National cohesion in peril
E. Jeopardizes the bicultural nature with wrong translation and interpretation.
F. Does not condemn illicit enrichment and does not reinforce article 66 of the Constitution on the declaration of assets.
However, Ayah Paul Abine, Advocate General at the Supreme Court had earlier argued that the said bill did not give members of government immunity. He wrote ” We want to insist that the claim that Section 127 of the bill confers immunity on ministers is a false alarm, and it is utterly misconstrued. Nor is it a new provision as it has facetiously been proclaimed.” . It is, therefore, evident that Mr. Biya thinks otherwise by sending the bill back to Parliament.
Political pundits say by Mr. Biya must have bowed to popular opinion this time around. The Bar Council has been seen for once standing in unison for the collective good of the people. However, this as usual only offers half-baked solutions for it is not known if the controversial article which criminalised tenants to up to 3 years imprisonment after failing to pay 2 months rents shall be reviewed. BaretaNews thinks that Mr . Biya cannot take the Cameroons people for a joke. The lawyers must continuously put pressure until all the controversial articles are withdrawn and the penal code meets international standards.
The struggle continues.