Soter Tarh Agbaw-Ebai
Ever since the Burkinabe spring, there have been acute tensions within the Paul Biya regime-a regime that is taking the last kicks of a dying horse. Even prior to the overthrow of the Burkinabe thug Blaise Compaore, several Biya lieutenants had undermined the president, humiliating his minister of Secondary Education, Mbape Mbape. The jockeying for political appointments has virtually come to an end as the proud Francophone Beti-Ewondo elite are no longer interested to be identified with failure. However, because the regime controls the administration, the military, the legislature and the electoral process, its spin doctor the ageing Martin Belinga Eboutou raised up in the Congo recently made history by teleguiding our national assembly into voting a terrorism law.
Biya’s Cameroon is now the first nation on earth to successfully defined terrorism. We of Cameroon Concord have been wondering how terrorism can be defined in Cameroon so easily when the process of defining it globally is wholly frustrated by the presence of irreconcilable antagonisms. Correspondingly, definition is truly an art. The artist seeks to paint in abstract or concrete terms something observed so as to give it some meaning of a distinctive character. So, is it futile to attempt to define terrorism? The answer is a vehement NO!! This is true because the Cameroonian dictator and his ruling CPDM crime syndicate have given us one!! Biya and his Beti-Ewondo hegemony have agreed that terrorism is the intentional generation of massive fear by the CPDM regime for the purpose of securing or maintaining control over other Cameroonians.
Cameroon has passed legislation purporting to combat terrorism in which constitutionally protected civil liberties and liberties protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which Cameroon is a state party were criminalized. While "acts of terror" have been criminalized under different circumstances," terrorism" is so far not a cognizable crime in international law because its definition is mired in international politics. The International law Commission notes that the Western, Eastern and Arab definition of terrorism differs significantly from a conceptual and normative perspective. Cameroon thought that it had found definition, and an underlying crime that conflates civil liberties and acts of terror. In so doing, it purported to rely on an African Union treaty criminalizing acts of terror which it has never ratified. Cameroon Parliament authorized the ratification of this treaty in the same session in which it passed the law on terrorism. This legislative acrobatics was intended to rush a law whose real import is to criminalize the Burkinable-type revolution, free speech and civil liberties.
This attempt may have suffered a major setback if one considers the judgment of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights recently, depriving dictators on the continent the weapon which the Cameroon legislation intended to use to stifle free speech and constitutionally protected fundamental human values. The Cameroon legislation criminalizing alleged acts of terror and terrorism calls into question the legality of its prior judgment and conviction of SCYL Chairman Ebenezar Akwanga and some 82 Southern Cameroons activists for alleged acts of terror more than a decade ago. If a law criminalizing acts of terror did not exist as we argued then and now, on what basis were these armless Southern Cameroons citizens tried and convicted? How do we characterize the judicial blackmail in which they were abducted to a Military Tribunal far from their homes and tried in a language they did not understand? How does Cameroun account for the many abductees who died in that illegal legal process? The present law vindicates Chairman Akwanga and gives greater meaning and urgency to the Judgment of the UN Human Rights Committee in General nullifying the Judgment of the Yaounde Military Tribunal and urging Cameroun to compensate Chairman Akwanga.