Husbands who are found guilty of having sexual intercourse with other women will be slammed a six-year imprisonment term and fine, ranging from FCFA 25,000 to 100,000.
This is one of the elements of the bill on the amendment of the Penal Code that government tabled in Parliament on June 13. The prosecution of adulterous husbands is one of the amendments that the government has proposed in the Code.
Until the proposed amendment becomes law, the current Penal Code provides that only women found guilty of adultery are punished, while the men guilty of the same crime are left off the hook of justice to enjoy impunity.
The proposed amendment of this section of the law provides that both men and women guilty of adultery will face the music of the law on equal basis. They both bag a six-year jail term and pay a fine of FCFA 25,000 to FCFA 100,000.
The law provides that an adulterous partner can only be prosecuted if there is a complaint from his or her partner. It equally provides that the court can stop prosecution if the victim decides to forgive his or her adulterous partner.
People who send away their spouses or abandon them unjustly will face the long arm of the law by virtue of article 358(1) of the proposed amendment. An imprisonment term of three months to one year and the payment of a fine of FCFA 500,000 have been reserved for them. The imprisonment term, going by the proposed amendment, increases to five years for a husband who is guilty of sending away his pregnant wife.
If the proposed amendments are adopted, Cameroon will emerge with a Penal Code that gives a kink to the protection of the rights of women and gender equality.
Many gender activists hold that its provisions are in tandem with the recommendations of the UN Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, CEDAW.
The bill that has 370 articles, seeks to update the Penal Code that Cameroon has been using since 1967. Many of the provisions of the almost half a century Penal Code are obsolete and stand at variance with the evolution of time. They are at odds with the current socio-economic and political dispensation of the country.
Article 163 of the draft law provides that people found guilty of examination fraud are punishable with an imprisonment term of one to three years and a fine ranging from FCFA 25000 to FCFA 2 million. People found guilty of having fake certificates are also punishable under this section of the proposed law.
Even officials who would be found guilty of having facilitated the entry of students into institutions through fraud will face the law. Examiners who deliberately cause the failure of students in official exams will equally be prosecuted. Once found guilty, they will bag a five-year imprisonment term and pay a fine ranging between FCFA 200,000 to FCFA 2 million.
Gay rights activists in Cameroon are bitterly disappointed given that it is still maintained in the Code that homosexuality is a criminal offence in Cameroon. Thus any one found guilty of committing homosexuality is slammed an imprisonment term of six months to five years with a fine ranging between FCFA 20,000 to FCFA 200,000.
The new Code will have regressive elements extracted from the law on terrorism that Parliament adopted last year. Such provisions, observers hold, constitute an affront to fundamental liberties like public demonstrations.
Advocates of press freedom also take exception to the fact that the criminal defamation element will still be maintained in the new Code. This means that journalists can still go to prison in Cameroon for expressing their opinions. It still maintains the element wherein one can bag a heavy jail term if found guilty of outrage against the Head of State.
The proposed amendment also seeks to protect citizens against quack doctors who claim to treat every disease. Meanwhile, tenants who refuse to pay their rents are also liable to imprisonment terms of three months to three years as well as pay fines for destruction to buildings they are renting.The new Code is tailored to be at ease with the fight against corruption and cyber criminality, as well as, some international instruments such as the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime and the OHADA Uniform Acts on General Business Law Relating to Collateral and Cooperative Societies.