Cameroon Gov't Crafting New Law to Chase Regime Dissidents, Others inside Neighboring Countries

It is common knowledge that some of the most repressive and authoritarian regimes in the world are found in Central Africa. Most, if not all these countries make up what is known as the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) and share a common currency, the CFA F. Apart from Equatorial Guinea, all these states: Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Chad are all former colonies of France.

 

CEMAC is also home to both the longest-serving and oldest heads of state in the World, with Paul Biya of Cameroon, Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo- Brazzaville leading the charge with at least 38 years of uninterrupted rule. These rulers have managed to perpetuate their stay in power through a combination of rigged elections and crackdowns on political dissent.

 

Discontent is growing against these leaders with regard to their perpetual stay in power, marked by rampant unemployment and crippling poverty. Fear that these concerns could lead to cross border concerted action to topple them from power,  the presidents have grown concerned about the need to track down and muzzle political opponents wherever they may run to. Thus, these countries have tried to secure extradition treaties with multiple states around the world to meet that objective, although the initiative has faced mixed fortunes with most Western countries.  

 

Therefore, to close the gap of criminality in the Central Africa subregion and pre-empt cross border coordinated unrest, the leaders decided in 2015 to adopt a multilateral approach to tackle the situation. The agreement sets out to enable crime control in the Central African subregion by facilitating intelligence exchange on criminal investigation, crime prevention and general policing issues, and circumventing the cumbersome traditional extradition procedure.

 

In this light, criminals who take refuge in neighbouring countries to escape the wrath of the law in their countries would no longer find a haven.  Cross border cooperation between these countries would lead to the hunting down of criminals (and political opponents) with relative ease once a new bill now in the Cameroon Parliament gets validated and goes into force.

 

 

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Upon a simple request, Mr. Biya's government would be able to get suspected fugitives handed over to Cameroonian security forces by neighbouring countries and vice versa. The House of Assembly overwhelmingly dominated by the ruling CPDM party is expected to rubberstamp the draft bill tabled by the government into law. 

 

The bill seeks to authorize the President of the Republic to ratify the Criminal Police Cooperation Agreement between the Central African States, signed in Yaounde in September 2015. Overall, the new agreement enables effective crime control in the Central African subregion by facilitating intelligence exchange on criminal investigation, crime prevention and general policing issues, and circumventing the cumbersome traditional extradition procedure.

 

Under the agreement, multiple facilities are provided for in the course of criminal police missions, relating to the possibility of obtaining the prompt handing over of fugitive criminals through a simple request containing a summary of the facts, their characterization, a copy of the relevant legal provisions, the list of suspects, their accomplices as well as their photographs. The facilities also include the requirement of a copy of a wanted notice endorsed by the state prosecutor to search for a suspect in member states of the Central African Police Chiefs Committee; the handover of any person apprehended by the requested state, except for its own nationals, unlike the previous provisions whereby such operations concerned solely requesting state nationals.

 

According to the explanatory statement of the bill, the Criminal Police Cooperation Agreement is expected to boost Cameroon’s legal arsenal for effective cross-border crime control, especially in the light of the country’s current security challenges at some of its borders, especially in the Far North and Eastern regions.