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Cameroon: Legal Aid Law

(Apr. 28, 2009) It was reported on April 21, 2009, that Cameroonian President Paul Biya had enacted a new law on legal aid. This law stipulates the conditions under which legal aid may be provided and establishes commissions with a mandate to examine and process legal aid applications. The law allows individuals who cannot afford to appear before a court to have their rights enforced and those who have already obtained a writ or judgment in their favor but are unable to follow through to the enforcement stage for want of resources to make an application for legal aid. It mandates that legal aid commissions with the task of examining and approving applications for legal aid be established at all levels of the courts. Under the new law, an application for legal aid may be made to the secretary of the legal aid commission in the appropriate court either orally or in writing. The secretary then forwards the petition to the chairperson of the legal aid commission, who in turn, in consultation with counsel, makes a determination on whether an applicant qualifies for aid. (Fred Vubem, Law on Legal Aid Provisions, CAMEROON TRIBUNE, Apr. 21, 2009, available at

The law gives the commissions the discretionary power to determine the extent of the legal aid to be provided to an applicant, be it in terms of proceedings or cost. The commissions may also discontinue legal aid upon learning that the recipient has reached a point at which he can afford to pay for his own legal representation or that he provided false information in order to secure legal aid. (Id.)