Source of constitutional authority, Preamble
We, the people of Cameroon,
Motives for writing constitution, Reference to fraternity/solidarity
Proud of our linguistic and cultural diversity, an enriching feature of our national identity, but profoundly aware of the imperative need to further consolidate our unity, solemnly declare that we constitute one and the same Nation, bound by the same destiny, and assert our firm determination to build the Cameroonian Fatherland on the basis of the ideals of fraternity, justice and progress;
Regional group(s), Reference to fraternity/solidarity, International human rights treaties, Motives for writing constitution
Jealous of our hard-won independence and resolved to preserve same; convinced that the salvation of Africa lies in forging ever-growing bonds of solidarity among African Peoples, affirm our desire to contribute to the advent of a united and free Africa, while maintaining peaceful and brotherly relations with the other nations of the World, in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
Motives for writing constitution, Right to reasonable standard of living
Resolved to harness our natural resources in order to ensure the well-being of every citizen without discrimination, by raising living standards, proclaim our right to development as well as our determination to devote all our efforts to that end and declare our readiness to cooperate with all States desirous of participating in this national endeavour with due respect for our sovereignty and the independence of the Cameroonian State.
We, the people of Cameroon,
Equality regardless of religion, General guarantee of equality, Equality regardless of gender, Equality regardless of race, Equality regardless of creed or belief, Inalienable rights
Declare that the human person, without distinction as to race, religion, sex or belief, possesses inalienable and sacred rights;
International human rights treaties, International law
Affirm our attachment to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of United Nations and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and all duly ratified international conventions relating thereto, in particular, to the following principles:
General guarantee of equality
all persons shall have equal rights and obligations. The State shall provide all its citizens with the conditions necessary for their development;
- the State shall ensure the protection of minorities and shall preserve the rights of indigenous populations in accordance with the law;
- freedom and security shall be guaranteed each individual, subject to respect for the rights of others and the higher interests of the State;
Freedom of movement
every person shall have the right to settle in any place and to move about freely, subject to the statutory provisions concerning public law and order, security and tranquillity;
Inalienable rights, Regulation of evidence collection, Right to privacy
the home is inviolate. No search may be conducted except by virtue of the law;
Right to privacy, Inalienable rights, Regulation of evidence collection
the privacy of all correspondence is inviolate. No interference may be allowed except by virtue of decisions emanating from the Judicial power;
- no person may be compelled to do what the law does not prescribe;
Principle of no punishment without law, Protection from unjustified restraint
no person may be prosecuted, arrested or detained except in the cases and according to the manner determined by law;
Protection from ex post facto laws
the law may not have retrospective effect. No person may be judged and punished, except by virtue of a law enacted and published before the offence was committed;
Right to fair trial
the law shall ensure the right of every person to a fair hearing before the courts;
Presumption of innocence in trials
every accused person is presumed innocent until found guilty during a hearing conducted in strict compliance with the rights of defence;
Right to life, Prohibition of cruel treatment, Prohibition of torture
every person has a right to life, to physical and moral integrity and to humane treatment in all circumstances. Under no circumstances shall any person be subjected to torture, to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment;
- no person shall be harassed on grounds of his origin, religious, philosophical or political opinions or beliefs, subject to respect for public policy;
Official religion, Separation of church and state
the state shall be secular. The neutrality and independence of the State in respect of all religions shall be guaranteed;
Freedom of religion
freedom of religion and worship shall be guaranteed;
Right to join trade unions, Freedom of expression, Freedom of association, Right to strike, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of press
the freedom of communication, of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association, and of trade unionism, as well as the right to strike shall be guaranteed under the conditions fixed by law;
State support for the elderly, Right to found a family, State support for children, State support for the disabled, Rights of children
the Nation shall protect and promote the family which is the natural foundation of human society. It shall protect women, the young, the elderly and the disabled;
the State shall guarantee the child's right to education. Primary education shall be compulsory. The organization and supervision of education at all levels shall be the bounden duty of the State;
Right to own property, Protection from expropriation
ownership shall mean the right guaranteed every person by law to use, enjoy and dispose of property. No person shall be deprived thereof, save for public purposes and subject to the payment of compensation under conditions determined by law;
Right to own property
the right of ownership may not be exercised in violation of the public interest or in such a way as to be prejudicial to the security, freedom, existence or property of other persons;
Protection of environment
every person shall have a right to a healthy environment. The protection of the environment shall be the duty of every citizen. The State shall ensure the protection and improvement of the environment;
Right to work, Duty to work
every person shall have the right and the obligation to work;
Duty to pay taxes
every person shall share in the burden of public expenditure according to his financial resources;
Duty to serve in the military
all citizens shall contribute to the defence of the Fatherland;
Equality regardless of gender
the State shall guarantee all citizens of either sex the rights and freedoms set forth in the Preamble of the Constitution.
PART I. THE STATE AND SOVEREIGNTY
- The United Republic of Cameroon shall, with effect from the date of entry into force of this law, be known as Republic of Cameroon (Law No 84-1 of February 4, 1984).
Official religion, Separation of church and state, Type of government envisioned, General guarantee of equality
The Republic of Cameroon shall be a decentralized unitary State. It shall be one and indivisible, secular, democratic and dedicated to social service. It shall recognize and protect traditional values that conform to democratic principles, human rights and the law. It shall ensure the equality of all citizens before the law.
Official or national languages, Protection of language use
The Official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The State shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. It shall endeavour to protect and promote national languages.
Its motto shall be "Peace - Work - Fatherland".
Its flag shall be three equal vertical stripes of green, red and yellow charged with one gold star in the centre of the red stripe.
Its national anthem shall be "O Cameroon, Cradle of our Forefathers".
- The seal of the Republic of Cameroon shall be a circular medallion in bas-relief, 46 millimetres in diameter, bearing on the obverse and in the centre the head of a girl in profile turned to the dexter towards a coffee branch with two leaves and flanked on the sinister by five cocoa pods, with the French words "Republique du Cameroun" inscribed below the upper edge and the national motto "Paix - Travail - Patrie" inscribed above the lower edge; on the reverse and in the center the coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon, with the English words "Republic of Cameroon" inscribed beneath the upper edge and the national motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland" inscribed above the lower edge.
The coat of arms of the Republic of Cameroon shall be an escutcheon surmounted chief by the legend "Republic of Cameroon" and supported by two crossed fasces with the motto "Peace - Work - Fatherland" base.
The escutcheon shall be composed of a star on a field vent and triangle gules, charged with the geographical outline of Cameroon azure, and surcharged the sword and scales of justice sable.
The Capital of the Republic of Cameroon shall be Yaounde.
- National sovereignty shall be vested in the people of Cameroon who shall exercise same either through the President of the Republic and Members of Parliament or by way of referendum. No section of the people or any individual shall arrogate to itself or to himself the exercise thereof.
Claim of universal suffrage
The authorities responsible for the management of the state shall derive their powers from the people through election by direct or indirect universal suffrage, unless otherwise provided for in this Constitution.
Secret ballot, Restrictions on voting
The vote shall be equal and secret, and every citizen aged twenty years and above shall be entitled to vote.
Restrictions on political parties
Political parties and groups shall help the electorate in the making of voting decisions. They shall be bound to respect the principles of democracy, national sovereignty and unity. They shall be formed and shall exercise their activities in accordance with the law.
State power shall be exercised by:
- the President of the Republic;
PART IV. RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EXECUTIVE AND THE LEGISLATIVE POWERS
Initiation of general legislation
Bills may be tabled either by the President of the Republic or by members of Parliament.
- Bills shall be passed by Parliament.
- The following shall be reserved to the legislative power:
- The fundamental rights, guarantees and obligations of the citizen:
- safeguarding individual freedom and security;
- the rules governing public freedoms;
- labour legislation, trade union legislation, rules governing social security and insurance;
- the duties and obligations of the citizen in respect of national defence requirements.
- The status of persons and property Ownership system:
Requirements for birthright citizenship
nationality, status of person, matrimonial system, succession and gifts;
- rules governing civil and commercial obligations;
- movable and immovable property ownership system.
- The political, administrative and judicial Organization:
- rules governing election of the President of the Republic and elections into the National Assembly, the Senate, Regional and Local Bodies and referendum operations.
- rules governing associations and political parties;
- the organization, functioning, powers and resources of regional and local authorities;
- general rules governing the organization of national defence;
- judicial organization and the creation of various types of courts;
- the definition of felonies and misdemeanours and the institution of penalties of all kinds, criminal procedure, civil procedure, measures of execution, amnesty.
- The following financial and patrimonial matters:
- rules governing the issue of currency;
- the budget;
- the creation of duties and the determination of their basis of assessment, rates and methods of collection;
- land tenure, State lands and mining;
- natural resources.
- Programming the objectives of economic and social action.
- The system of education.
Matters not reserved to the legislative power shall come under the jurisdiction of the authority empowered to issue rules and regulations.
Head of state decree power
However, with regard to the subjects listed in Article 26 (2) above, Parliament may empower the President of the Republic to legislate by way of ordinances for a limited period and for given purposes.
- Such ordinances shall enter into force on the date of their publication. They shall be tabled before the bureaux of the National Assembly and the Senate for purposes of ratification within the time limit laid down by the enabling law. They shall be of a statutory nature as long as they have not been ratified.
- They shall remain in force as long as Parliament has not refused to ratify them.
Government bills and private members' bills shall be tabled at the same time before the bureaux of the National Assembly and the Senate. They shall be studied by the appropriate committees prior to their being debated in plenary session.
- The bill debated in plenary session shall be that tabled by the President of the Republic. The private members' bill debated in plenary session shall be the next tabled by its author or authors.
- Such bills may be amended in the course of the debate.
Approval or veto of general legislation
Division of labor between chambers
A bill passed by the National Assembly shall be immediately forwarded to the President of the Senate by the President of the National Assembly.
- The President of the Senate shall, upon receiving the bill forwarded by the President of the National Assembly, submit it to the Senate for consideration.
- Within 10 (ten) days, with effect from the date of receipt of the bill or 5 (five) days for a bill declared urgent by the Government, the Senate may:
- Pass the bill.
In which case, the President of the Senate shall return the adopted bill to the President of the National Assembly who shall forward same within 48 (forty-eight) hours to the President of the Republic for enactment.
- Amend the bill.
Such amendment must be approved by a simple majority of the Senators.
In which case, the amended bill shall be returned to the National Assembly by the President of the Senate for reconsideration.
The amendment proposed by the Senate shall be passed or rejected by a simple majority of the members of the National Assembly.
The final bill adopted shall be forwarded by the President of the National Assembly to the President of the Republic for enactment.
- Reject all or part of the bill.
Such rejection must be approved by an absolute majority of the senators. In which case, the rejected bill with reasons therefore shall be returned to the National Assembly by the President of the Senate for reconsideration.
- The National Assembly shall, after deliberation, pass the bill by absolute majority of its members.
The final bill adopted by the National Assembly shall be forwarded to the President of the Republic for enactment.
- Where an absolute majority cannot be reached, the President of the Republic may convene a meeting of a joint commission comprising equal representation of both houses to propose a common formulation of the provisions rejected by the Senate.
The text prepared for the joint Commission shall be submitted to both Houses by the President of the Republic for approval.
No amendment shall be admissible, except with the approval of the President of Republic.
Where the joint commission fails to agree on a common text, or where such text is not adopted by both Houses, the President of the Republic may:
- either request the National Assembly to take a final decision thereon; or
declare the government bill or private members' bill null and void.
Approval or veto of general legislation
The President of the Republic shall enact laws passed by Parliament within 15 (fifteen) days of their being forwarded to him unless he requests a second reading or refers the matter to the Constitutional Council.
Approval or veto of general legislation
Upon the expiry of this deadline, and after establishing the failure of the President of the Republic to act, the President of the National Assembly may himself enact the law.
- Laws shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Republic in English and French.
The President of the Republic may, at his request, address the National Assembly, the Senate or the two Houses meeting in congress. He may also send messages to them; but no such address or message may be debated in his presence.
The Prime Minister and the other members of Government shall have access to Parliament and may participate in its deliberations.
- At the session during which the finance bill is considered, the Prime Minister shall present to the National Assembly the Government's economic, financial, social and cultural programme.
- The Prime Minister may, after the deliberations of the Council of Ministers, commit the responsibility of the Government before the National Assembly on a programme or, as the case may be, on a general policy statement.
Voting shall take place not less than 48 (forty-eight) hours after the vote of no confidence has been requested.
A vote of no confidence shall be passed by an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly.
Only votes against a vote of confidence shall be counted.
Limits on removing head of government
The National Assembly may question the responsibility of the Government through a motion of censure. Such motion may be admissible only when it is signed by at least one-third of the members of the National Assembly. Voting shall take place not less than 48 (forty-eight) hours after the motion has been tabled. A motion of censure shall be passed by a two-third majority of the members of the National Assembly. Only votes in favour of a motion of censure shall be counted.
Where a motion of censure is rejected, its signatories may not propose a new motion before a period of one year except as provided for in paragraph (4) below.
Head of government removal
The Prime Minister may, after the deliberations of the Council of Ministers, commit the responsibility of the Government before the National Assembly on the adoption of a bill. In such case, the bill may be considered adopted, except where a motion of censure tabled within the next 24 (twenty-four) hours is passed under the conditions provided for in the preceding paragraph.
Cabinet removal, Head of government removal
Where the National Assembly adopts a motion of censure or passes a vote of no confidence, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Government to the President of the Republic.
- The President of the Republic may reappoint the Prime Minister and ask him to form a new Government.
Legislative oversight of the executive
The Parliament shall control Government action through oral and written questions and by setting up committees of inquiry with specific terms of reference.
Legislative oversight of the executive
The Government shall, subject to the imperatives of national defence, the security of the State or the secrecy of criminal investigation, furnish any explanations and information to Parliament.
- During each ordinary session, a special sitting shall be set aside each week for question time.
The President of the Republic may, after consulting with the President of the Constitutional Council, the President of the National Assembly and the President of the Senate, submit to a referendum any reform bill which, although normally reserved to the Legislative Power, could have profound repercussions on the future of the Nation and national institutions.
This shall apply in particular to:
- bills to organize public authorities or to amend the constitution;
bills to ratify international agreements or treaties having particularly important consequences;
- certain reform bills relating to the law on persons and property.
- Such bills shall be adopted by a majority of votes cast.
- The referendum procedure shall be laid down by law.
PART V. JUDICIAL POWER
- Justice shall be administered in the territory of the Republic in the name of the people of Cameroon.
Structure of the courts
Judicial power shall be exercised by the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and Tribunals. The Judicial Power shall be independent of the executive and legislative powers. Magistrates of the bench shall, in the discharge of their duties, be governed only by the law and their conscience.
Ordinary court selection, Establishment of judicial council, Judicial independence, Supreme court selection
The President of the Republic shall guarantee the independence of judicial power. He shall appoint members of the bench and of the legal department.
He shall be assisted in this task by the Higher Judicial Council which shall give him its opinion on all nominations for the bench and on disciplinary action against judicial and legal officers. The organization and functioning of the Higher Judicial Council shall be defined by law.
Structure of the courts
The Supreme Court shall be the highest court of the State in legal and administrative matters as well as in the appraisal of accounts.
- It shall comprise:
- a judicial bench;
Right to appeal judicial decisions
The judicial bench shall give final rulings on:
- appeals accepted by law against final rulings given by the various courts and tribunals of the judicial system;
judgments passed by the lower courts of the judicial system that have become final in cases where the application of the law is challenged;
all matters expressly devolving upon it by law.
The administrative bench shall examine all the administrative disputes involving the State and other public authorities. It shall:
- examine appeals on regional and council election disputes;
give final rulings on appeals against final judgments passed by lower courts in cases of administrative disputes;
examine any other disputes expressly devolving upon it by law.
The audit bench shall be competent to control and rule on public accounts, as well as on those of public and semi-public enterprises. It shall:
- give final rulings on final judgments passed by lower audit courts;
examine any other matters expressly devolving upon it by law.
- The organization, functioning, composition and duties of the Supreme Court and the benches it comprises, the conditions for referring matters to them as well as the procedure applicable before them shall be laid down by law.
- The organization, functioning, composition and duties of the Courts of Appeal and judicial, administrative and lower audit benches as well as the conditions for referring matters to them and the procedure applicable before them shall be laid down by law.
PART VI. TREATIES AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS
International law, Treaty ratification
The President of the Republic shall negotiate and ratify treaties and international agreements. Treaties and international agreements falling within the area of competence of the legislative power as defined in Article 26 above shall be submitted to Parliament for authorization to ratify.
International law, Legal status of treaties, Treaty ratification
Where the Constitutional Council finds a provision of a treaty or of an international agreement unconstitutional, authorization to ratify and the ratification of the said treaty or agreement shall be deferred until the Constitution is amended.
International law, Treaty ratification, Legal status of treaties
Duly approved or ratified treaties and international agreements shall, following the publication, override national laws, provided the other party implements the said treaty or agreement.
PART VII. THE CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL
Establishment of constitutional court, Constitutional interpretation
The Constitutional Council shall have jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the Constitution. It shall rule on the constitutionality of laws. It shall be the organ regulating the functioning of the institutions.
Constitutional court powers, Establishment of constitutional court
- The Constitutional Council shall give a final ruling on:
Federal review of subnational legislation
Matters may be referred to the Constitutional Council by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, one-third of the members of the National Assembly or one-third of the Senators.
Presidents of regional executives may refer matters to the Constitutional Council whenever the interests of their Regions are at stake.
Constitutionality of legislation, International law
Laws as well as treaties and international agreements may, prior to their enactment, be referred to the Constitutional Council by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, one-third of the members of the National Assembly, one-third of the Senators, or the Presidents of the regional executives pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (2) above.
Enactment deadlines shall cease to lapse once an instrument has been referred to the Constitutional Council.
- The Constitutional Council shall advice in matters falling under its jurisdiction.
Establishment of constitutional court, Constitutional court powers
- The Constitutional Council shall ensure the regularity of presidential elections, parliamentary elections and referendum operations. It shall proclaim the results thereof.
- Any challenges in respect of the regularity of one of the elections provided for in the preceding paragraph may be brought before the Constitutional Council by any candidate, political party that participated in the election in the constituency concerned or any person acting as Government agent at the election.
- Any challenges in respect of the regularity of a referendum may be referred to the Constitutional Council by the President of the Republic, the President of the National Assembly, the President of the Senate, one-third of the members of the National Assembly or one-third of the Senators.
In any case, the Constitutional Council shall give a ruling within a period of 15 (fifteen) days, once a matter has been referred to it.
However, at the request of the President of the Republic, such time-limit may be reduced to 8 (eight) days.
- Rulings of the Constitutional Council shall not be subject to appeal. They shall be binding on all public, administrative, military and judicial authorities, as well as all natural persons and corporate bodies.
Constitutionality of legislation
A provision that has been declared unconstitutional may not be enacted or implemented.
Establishment of constitutional court
Eligibility for const court judges, Constitutional court term length, Constitutional court term limits
The Constitutional Council shall comprise 11 (eleven) members designated for an eventually renewable term of office of 6 (six) years.
These members shall be chosen from among personalities of established professional renown.
They must be of high moral integrity and proven competence.
Constitutional court selection
Members of the Constitutional Council shall be appointed by the President of the Republic.
They shall be designated as follows:
- three, including the President of the Council, by the President of the Republic;
three by the President of the National Assembly after consultation with the Bureau;
three by the President of the Senate after consultation with the Bureau;
two by the Higher Judicial Council. Besides the eleven members provided for above, former presidents of the Republic shall be ex officio members of the Constitutional Council for life. In case of a tie, the President of the Constitutional Council shall have the casting vote.
- In the event of the death or resignation of a member or any other cause of incapacity or inability duly established by the competent bodies provided for by law, a replacement shall be designated by the competent authority or body concerned and appointed to complete the term of office.
- Members of the Constitutional Council shall take the oath of office as laid down by law before Parliament meeting in congress.
- The duties of member of the Constitutional Council shall be incompatible with those of member of Government, of Member of Parliament or of the Supreme Court. Other incompatibilities and matters relating to the status of members, namely obligations, immunities and privileges shall be laid down by law.
A law shall lay down the organization and functioning of the Constitutional Council, the conditions for referring matters to its as well as the procedure applicable before it.
Courts for judging public officials
PART VIII. THE COURT OF IMPEACHMENT
Head of state removal, Head of government removal
The Court of Impeachment shall have jurisdiction, in respect of acts committed in the exercise of their functions, to try;
- the President of the Republic for high treason;
the Prime Minister, members of Government and persons ranking as such and senior government officials to whom powers have been delegated in pursuance of Articles 10 and 12 above, for conspiracy against the security of the State.
Head of state removal
The President of the Republic shall be indicted only by the National Assembly and the Senate deciding through an identical vote by open ballot and by a four-fifths majority of their members.
- Acts committed by the President of the Republic in pursuance of Articles 5, 8, 9 and 10 above shall be covered by immunity and he shall not be accountable for them after the exercise of his functions.
- The organization, composition and conditions under which matters shall be referred to as well as the procedure applicable before the Court of Impeachment shall be laid down by law.
Constitution amendment procedure
PART XI. AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION
- Amendments to the Constitution may be proposed either by the President of the Republic or by Parliament.
- Any proposed amendment made by a Member of Parliament shall be signed by at least one-third of the members of either House.
- Parliament shall meet in congress when called upon to examine a draft or proposed amendment. The amendment shall be adopted by an absolute majority of the Members of Parliament. The President of the Republic may request a second reading; in which case the amendment shall be adopted by a two-third majority of the Members of Parliament.
- The President of the Republic may decide to submit any bill to amend the Constitution to a referendum; in which case the amendment shall be adopted by a simple majority of the votes cast.
No procedure for the amendment of the Constitution affecting the republican form, unity and territorial integrity of the State and the democratic principles which govern the Republic shall be accepted.
PART XII. SPECIAL PROVISIONS
The Preamble shall be part and parcel of this Constitution.
Earnings disclosure requirement
The President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, Members of Government and persons ranking as such, the President and Members of the Bureau of the National Assembly, the President and Members of the Bureau of the Senate, Members of Parliament, Senators, all holders of an effective elective office, Secretaries-General of Ministries and person ranking as such, Directors of the Central Administration, General Managers of public and semi-public enterprises, Judicial and Legal Officers, administrative personnel in charge of the tax base, collection and handling of public funds, all managers of public votes and property, shall declare their assets and property at the beginning and at the end of their tenure of office.
The other categories of persons to whom the provisions of this article shall apply and the conditions of implementation thereof shall be determined by law.