By DOH JAMES SONKEY
Perpetrators of hate speech and tribalism in Cameroon will soon receive heavy legal punishments following a decision by the government to finally table a bill against such an unfortunate growing phenomenon gradually eating up the foundation of a peaceful and united Cameroon.
A draft bill to amend Cameroon’s legal code was tabled in Parliament last week for scrutiny and possible adoption. Certain provisions of the new article prescribe extra punishment for certain category of persons who promote hate speech, contempt of tribe and tribalism. Article 241 (1) deals with punishment of promoters of hate speech and contempt of tribe. Here an individual could face between six days to six months in jail or pay a fine amounting to FCFA500,000.
In a severe note, article 241 (3) carries punishment in cases of aggravated hate speech, tribalism and other actions taken to denigrate a tribe especially by public office holders, members of the media, members of political parties, Non Governmental Organisations and religious institutions.
The draft bill states that hate speech committed by these groups of persons could result in imprisonment of up to two years and a fine that may be as high as FCFA 20million.
The bill accepted by the Chairmen’s conferences of the National Assembly and the Senate will be defended by Minister of State for Justice and Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso.
The bill comes at a time when hate speech, tribalism and anti-ethnic declarations have gained unprecedented ground in the country in the last few years.
Some Members of Parliament especially of the opposition SDF party contacted by The SUN described the bill as a non-event, calling on the regime to first restore peace in the crisis-hit North West and South West regions before tackling other issues to show good faith.