By Eric Tataw – Washington DC, USA, Wednesday, April 15, 2020.
In times of crisis, especially in one as challenging as the minacious novel Coronavirus, citizens of various countries expect their numero unos to make decisions above party lines and without discrimination.
In fact, citizens and countries must be put first and first. President Paul Biya of Cameroon has on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, ordered for the remission of sentences to several inmates who one would describe to have ‘lost hope’.
But, for many, the same decree has been used to settle political scores and mock a minority faction of his country. The decree ranges from soft sentences of one year to 25 years, after being commuted from a death sentence, the inmates whose sentence will grow to see their incarceration reduced beyond their imaginations.
The decree that’s seen as a move to decongest overcrowded prisons, some already holding more than ten times the capacities, is also said to partial. It has angered many political pundits who believe the decree would have been used to start a peace and reconciliation process in the country’s North West and South West.
The remission applies to persons who have become final at the date of signature of the decree, lifting the death sentence to life imprisonment while those with light penalties will see themselves leave the forced confinement.
According to the decree, inmates who were given death sentences received life imprisonment. The President also commuted to 25 years in favor of inmates initially sentenced to death and whose sentences already commuted to a term of life imprisonment.
Those that were initially sentenced to life imprisonment got a lease to 10 years, while those on ten years imprisonment were to be subjected to three years. As many as the articles in the degree freed some, reduced jail terms for many, inmates from Cameroon’s two English-speaking regions of the North West and South West were exclusively excluded.
The provisions according to Constitution don’t apply to persons imprisoned and sentenced for offenses committed while in detention, persons charged and sentenced for acts of terrorism, misappropriation of public property, corruption, undue influence, undue demand, counterfeit notes.
Those involved in customs or tax fraud, fraud in official and other examinations, fraudulent export of currency, illegal possession and trafficking of toxic waste, illegal possession and trafficking of narcotics, breaches against legislation on arms, breaches against forest legislation, torture, rape, sexual assault, and pedophilia did not also benefit from the decree.
Minors who have been sentenced within the “meaning of criminal law” will benefit from one-third of applicable remission, Biya said, adding that the Minister of State, Justice, and Keeper of Seals should take up the responsibility and implementation of the decree.
There are currently over 5000 persons held in various detention facilities across the Central African country in relation to the Anglophone crisis, including the separatist leader, Sisiku Ayuk Tabe Julius, referred to as President of Ambazonia state rebels are fighting to restore in the country’s two English-speaking regions.
Many have described the decree as dispersing nasty gases into the ether by failing to include inmates arrested in relation to the Anglophone Crisis. It’s debated in quarters that Paul Biya has simply emitted enthusiasm into the rebels.