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  • Case of Jule Chuenkam case in detention at Yaoundé Central Prison (Cameroon)

    It’s about 10 years that M Jule Omer Tchuenkam as well as 18 other people are in judgment before the military court of Yaoundé.
    Although the case is now in the pleading phase of the accused's guilt lawyers, it must be acknowledged that 10 years of trial is indeed long. This deplorable situation is essentially due to two things:
    • The Lack of Advocates: indeed, some of the 19 defendants in this case are liable to death or life imprisonment. However, according to Cameroonian law, people facing the death penalty or perpetual must have a council. If the latter do not have one, the President of the court shall appoint one for them automatically. Some of the accused in the case have appointed their own barister and others have a Council appointed by the President of the court. The finding is that not all of the accused's lawyers are present at all hearings, sometimes because the accused cannot afford to pay their lawyers. As long as these lawyers are not disrepaired, the President of the court may not appoint one of them in accordance with the provisions of article 417 paragraph 2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
    • The lack of assessors: any case falling within the jurisdiction of the military court is judged by a collegiality composed of a magistrate the President and two assessors. The article 7 paragraph 3 of the law 2017/012 of 12 July 2017 on the code of military justice states that "when the collegial formation of the military court is presided over by a civilian magistrate, the 2 assessors are members of the defense forces. It is common ground that the two assessors are not necessarily available for the hearings, because of their (assessors) other professional commitments.
    The next hearing in this case is scheduled today, February 21, 2019 from 12 at the Military Court. This is a public hearing.
    This case poses a serious problem of access to fair justice within a reasonable time. The law on the code of military justice and the code of criminal procedure need to be re-read.

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