Cameroon’s senate has modified Article 127 of the country’s controversial penal code bill by removing the heavily criticised immunity granted to government ministers.
The re-examination is in conformity with the provisions of Article 30 of Cameroon’s constitution.
Inside sources hint that the text has been modified following orders from president Paul Biya casting doubts on the credibility of Cameroon’s legislative arm quite often criticised as being a “rubber stamp” parliament.
“The president has requested the amendment of Article 127 which grants immunity to members of government. Know that for someone to claim immunity, he/she must be backed by a text. As of now government ministers do not have any text which gives them immunity. For instance, the president of the Republic has immunity conferred by the constitution, the parliamentarians have immunity conferred by law. But the members of government have no law which gives them immunity,” Hon. Martin Oyono, Member of Parliament of the ruling Cameroon’s People’s Democratic Movement told news site cameroon-info.net.
The previous penal code bill had stated that magistrates and officers of the judicial police who violate laws on immunities to arrest, prosecute or judge a member of government, could face prison terms ranging from one to five years.
The text has now been modified with the specific reference to members of government removed.
The Constitutional Law Committee of the National Assembly met on Wednesday to discuss the changes brought to the penal code draft law by the senate.
With the ongoing parliamentary session to end on July 1, the penal code bill is expected to be re-examined for adoption by the National Assembly before being signed into law by the president.
By press time this June 30, 2016, MP’s of the leading opposition party, the Social Democratic Front were targeting the content of the controversial penal code bill during a plenary sitting, citing non-respect of procedure.
Critics of the penal code bill are still discontented with the possibility of tenants sent to jail for owing two months rents, the maintenance of the death penalty among others.