As Cameroon’s ongoing demonstrations escalated in Bamenda this week, another round of clashes erupted between security forces, and the lawyers groups, teachers and citizens joining them who demand changes to the historic Anglophone systems.
The violent demonstrations followed protests in early November, in the cities of Bamenda, Buea and Limbe, according to Contra Nocendi, a human rights organization investigating the earlier clashes.
In a statement issued Friday, the group described intimidation and harassment of lawyers who say they want to ensure equal access and treatment in Cameroon’s common-law courts, rather than supporting a system they say is failing. Those calls resonate with teachers who see similar disparities in Cameroon’s educational system and have joined the protests, as well as angry citizens with wider social grievances.
In Cameroon, tensions between French-speaking communities and the Anglophone minority have existed for decades, at times leading to regional calls for secession. For the past two years, lawyers from Cameroon’s Anglophone Common Law community have sought to address perceived marginalization in the courts, and what they say is interference with the Anglo-Saxon system of law.
They began a general strike in October, and formally created the Cameroon Common Law Bar Association (CCLA) on November 4.
After the earlier protests, government officials in the historically Anglophone northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon banned some lawyer associations, and imposed restrictions that Contra Nocendi challenges as clear human rights violations.
Image: CCLA File Photo