Lawyers’ humiliation round [2]

EDITORIAL 25 Nov 2020
Lawyers’ humiliation round [2]

Over 100 protesting lawyers were last November 10, 2020, assaulted at the Bonanjo Magistrate’s court, which has enraged the Cameroon Bar Council. The council has, in its own reaction, enjoined state authorities to hand down what it termed “exemplary sanctions” on those, directly or remotely connected with the assault. The said assault is reported to have been carried out in multiple forms, including the use of teargas in the courtroom. In the course of these assaults, several lawyers are alleged to have sustained injuries, while others had their robes torn during a scuffle with a combined group of gendarmes and police.
At the end of the day, the lawyers hold firmly that the sanctions they are demanding are without prejudice of the Bar Association’s right to institute legal proceedings against those who carried out the act. They argue that they were simply protesting a sitting magistrate’s refusal to grant bail to two of their members. What is surprising is that bail is a legitimate option in law which lawyers had the right to pursue. It is however unfortunate that, whatever might have provoked such a scenario, the reaction of state forces did cross the borders of fair play in the face of a simple matter such as the right of bail defined by law.
Unfortunately, what is increasingly becoming obvious is that the relationship between lawyers and the state authorities is not at its best. On two separate occasions, men of this noble profession have fallen victims of public humiliation suffered in the hands of state forces. First, it was in 2017, when common Law Lawyers of Anglophone expression, staged protest marches, seeking to redress some anomalies that collided with the Anglo-Saxon legal system under which they operated. What this humiliation produced is certainly not a pleasant story to tell. Whichever way we look at it, the humiliation of lawyers at the time only deepened the crisis, which today looks difficult to contain.
The entire judicial process in any country, to which lawyers are part of, is the last hope for justice, not only for the down-trodden, but much more so even for those who may consider themselves as Barons. It is therefore not proper that lawyers become targets of public humiliation, especially if such humiliation is carried out the way state forces do it. It is strongly believed that despite the stains that the current Anglophone crisis has put on the reputation of the country, there is still much we should show that things can be better and that we still consider certain human rights and institutions as vital for our own good.
The Bar Association is therefore one of such institutions which deserves to enjoy its rights, while lawyers who constitute the body of this association should be allowed to feel free within the ambits of the law to exercise their rights at any given time. We regret that the reaction of the state forces towards lawyers should all along be barbaric in nature. This is strongly condemnable! We should bear in mind that such barbaric and uncivilised acts usually targeted towards lawyers tarnishes the image, honour and sacredness of the judicial institution as well as the integrity of the profession of lawyers. We however appreciate the fact that the Bar Association has promised to institute an investigation concerning allegations of professional misconduct made against two of theirs which is the subject matter of charges against their colleagues. We can only hope that the best comes out of these investigations, so that those found guilty should face sanctions. On the other hand, we expect exemplary sanctions against those who will be found connected with the assaults in the interest of peace and justice.

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