Going by the Decree creating the National Commission for bilingualism and multiculturalism, and specifically, its Section 3(2), Chapter II, it would have appeared said Commission inter alia, ‘ … shall be responsible for, submitting reports and recommendations on issues relating to the protection of bilingualism and multiculturalism to the President of the Republic and the government, monitoring the implementation of constitutional provisions establishing English and French as two official languages of equal status …, preparing and submitting to the President of the Republic draft instrument on bilingualism and multiculturalism and togetherness, receiving petitions against discriminations arising from non-compliance with the constitutional provisions on bilingualism, multiculturalism, and reporting … to the President of the Republic.
It would have appeared, likewise, the jurisdiction and or competence of said Commission is seemingly limited and predicated on or upon advisory opinions. The advisory opinion(s) of said Commission would have served to promote the rule of law by increasing certainty and enhancing knowledge of the law or laws in Cameroon. Nevertheless, such views as noted, have been evaluated and in conclusion, we intimate that, advisory opinions are likely in practice, have little benefit as a means of advancing the rule of law.
No greater and or superior certainty would arise from an advisory opinion from said Commission than the present situation. Indeed, a further sheet or layer of uncertainty would be the result: uncertainty surrounding whether the opinion of said Commission should or shall be accepted by the President or and Government, followed by the uncertainty as to whether said Commission, confronted with a concrete controversy ascending or arising from existing legislation(s) ( for instance, Law N0:96/06 of 18 January 1996, to amend the constitution of 2 June 1972, predicated effectively and or positively on a multi-traditional and or multilingual legal foundations, preserved hitherto), would have survived. This impression of certainty, we content, would represent a worse outcome for the rule of law than the current situation (social unrest in the North and South Regions respectively).
Furthermore, even if advice may be given by said Commission, without a breach of existing laws (which is doubtful), any merits/opinions would have been outweighed or overshadowed by political disadvantages inherent in the exercise of a power or authority for which effective alternatives already exist.
It should be noted that, bijuralism in Cameroon signifies the co-existence of the English Common Law and the French Civil Law traditions within a country organized along a decentralized unitary state orientation, see Section 1(2) of Law N0:96/06 of 18th January 1996, to amend the Constitution of 2nd June 1972. Said linguistic duality is solidly embedded, specifically in section 1(3) of said Law, supra.
Nevertheless, the President of the Republic may be very correct in his Decree creating the said Commission, ‘deceptis, non decipientibus, jura subveniunt’, meaning, the laws help persons who have been deceived not those deceiving. But let’s be minded that, the operation of law is firmer and more powerful than the will of man, for what is to be resolved once and for all should be long deliberated, considered and pondered on (‘Deliberandum est diu quod statuendum est semel’).
Consequently, Cosmetics legislations cannot resolve issues once and for all. Injury, often times, is wiped by genuine reconciliation and it should be noted that, a weak foundation frustrates any work built on it. God Bless Cameroon.
By Atoh Walter M. Tchemi, Lawyer and Human Rights Defender
Member: Human Rights Commission of the Cameroon Bar Association
Legal Critic, Researcher and Author, Founder and Head of the Time Law Firm, Kumba
CEO: Pro Bono Group