Cameroon:Ayah Paul pledges free legal aid for the poor

Ayah Paul

The super-scaled magistrate has created an association JUSTICE4ALL which he says will among other things provide free legal protection and fight judicial excesses against its members

In Cameroon over 62% of persons in prisons are those awaiting trial, according to the findings of an NGO, which notes that this is a gross abuse of human right of citizens by the government.

Also, cases abound where people who commit simple offences have been arrested and remanded in prison/police custody for long periods, even though the law does not permit the arrest of anyone who commits a simple offence.

The examples mentioned above are only two of the many judicial excesses that JUSTICE4ALL, an association created by Chief Justice Ayah Paul Abine seeks to fight against.

Launching the association at a press conference in Yaounde on Saturday, Chief Justice Ayah Paul said JUSTICE4ALL is neither an enemy nor an agent of the government; it only seeks to do what the government has failed or neglected to do.

“We are not some government department. No! If we say so then we would defeat the very essence of a civil society organization,” said Ayah, who however explained that “the result of our activities would end up aligning themselves with the initial intention of the government.”

Ayah explained that the government has classified offences under felony, misdemeanor and simple offence. He noted for example that the non-possession of a national ID Card or the possession of an expired ID Card is a simple offence, punishable with a prison team of from five to ten days; or with a fine of from 4.000cfa to 25.000 cfa; or with both the prison team and fine. Pointing out that the law does not permit the arrest of any one who commits a simple offence, Ayah regretted that cases are legion in society where persons are arrested and remanded in police stations because they did not possess the ID Cards.

Ayah also noted that there are many persons in our prisons who have served their complete prison terms but are not allowed to leave for the simple reason that they have not paid the exit fee. He says this is another form of human rights abuse which JUSTICE4ALL will fight against. But Ayah says, being an association, JUSTICE4ALL will only protect the rights of its members.

He says because ignorance of the law is no excuse, JUSTICE4ALL will also provide free legal education and advocacy to its members, apart from taking legal action to protect them and their families.He said the headquarters of JUSTICE4ALL is in Buea in the South West region. But branch offices will be opened in other towns progressively.

Asked if he created JUSTICE4ALL as a way of seeking more public notice, Ayah hastened to say no!

“I don’t seek publicity if so I would have accepted to join the government as minister or something. All I want to do is give back to humanity. I was brought up as an orphan. This is my own way of paying back for what I benefitted.”

It should be mentioned that Ayah is promoter of two orphanages; one in Buea and the other in Akwaya (exclusively for girls).

Source:The Median Newspaper

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