CAMs Update 30/7/12

The CAMs project has been very productive this week! On Thursday, three of our staff members put their heads together to begin forming our new workshop curriculum on mob justice. Spearheaded by American intern Rachel Braden, this curriculum will eventually be used in Mbalangi as well as future partner communities to sensitize and educate the population about the phenomenon of mob justice. Mob justice is unfortunately a common phenomenon in Cameroon, and many members of our partner communities have witnessed it firsthand. Previous intern Tessa Levine has written a comprehensive introduction to the phenomenon. Rachel has been conducting interviews in the town of Mbalangi as part of her research for this curriculum, and will also be interviewing citizens of Kumba over the next two weeks. Stay tuned to our blog for updates on the new Mob Justice Curriculum – it will be posted here first!

As usual, the CAMs project also conducted their weekly Good Governance workshop in Mbalangi Friday. This week’s workshop was titled “Fair and Effective Justice: Part One,” and explained the Cameroonian justice system and the concept of jurisdiction. Participants learned about the different courts within Cameroon, and the power each court has to hear certain types of cases. The workshop focused particularly on the jurisdictional powers of the Traditional Council, as most of our participants are Councilors on this important Council.
Ebeny teaching
In Cameroon, communities’ Traditional Councils have the power to hear many cases that arise in the course of everyday life: from misdemeanors to torts to boundary disputes. The official recognition of these councils is critical to the existence of the Cameroonian justice system: due to the country’s infrastructure, it is often difficult for citizens to travel to more “official” seats of justice. Many of the roads in Cameroon are not paved, and become virtually impassable during the rainy season (which is currently ongoing). Additionally, many citizens do not have the money or the time to make the trip to these courts to have their cases heard. The power of the Traditional Councils to hear their communities’ cases is therefore essential to making sure justice is served throughout the country. “Fair and Effective Justice: Part One” is an important stepping stone in helping the Councilors become more just and effective judicial officials. This past week’s workshop also included lively discussions with the attendees, and practical exercises for understanding the jurisdiction of the Traditional Council. Next week, attendees will learn the basics of Mediation in “Fair and Effective Justice: Part Two.”