Lawyers in Cameroon abandoned their gowns and wigs Monday as they launched a five-day protest to express their dissatisfaction over the lack of respect shown to them by the country’s magistracy, military and executive branch.
The decision was made by the Cameroon Bar Association, which met on Nov. 21 following the arrest and detention of lawyers who were charged with “contempt of court and destruction.”
The incident occurred on Nov. 10 at a court in the city of Douala, where two lawyers were facing trial on charges of corruption. They were said to have collected a large sum of money from a client who ended up receiving an 18-year sentence instead of 18 months. A relative of the client went to the judge to claim back the money paid, but he referred them to the lawyers, who admitted receiving the money.
The two lawyers were remanded in custody on Nov. 9 and sought bail the next day, but the judge adjourned the matter to Nov. 25. Other lawyers present did not welcome the decision and expressed themselves vocally. Moments later, police officers and gendarmes entered the courtroom and dispersed the angry lawyers with tear gas. Some of the lawyers sustained injuries during the commotion.
While the Cameroonian press portrayed the event as “a strike,” for lawyer Djanda Maurice, this is not the case.
“The council of order has decided to suspend robe-wearing for a week. We did not talk about a strike. This means that we won’t do anything that we usually do when we wear our black dresses,” he explained