The Minister of State, Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seals, Laurent Esso, accompanied by the Minister of External Relations, Lejeune Mbella Mbella, left the Mallam Yero Committee Room of the National Assembly at about 3 pm on Saturday, June 18, 2016, looking rather satisfied after members of the Committee on Constitutional Laws, Human Rights and Freedoms, adopted the bill on the new Penal Code.
The MPs started scrutinizing the bill on Friday, June 17, 2016 at 2pm after Minister of State Laurent Esso re-emphasized the need for government to revise the 51-year old Penal Code. According to the Director of Legislation in the Ministry of Justice, Dr. Kenfack Douajni Gaston, the Keeper of the Seals narrowed down the debate to nearly 100 new or modified Sections out of the 372 Sections of the Penal Code. The MPs, led by the Constitutional Laws Committee Chair, Hon. Zondol Herssessé, sought clarifications that were given by Minister of State, Laurent Esso.
The MPs were also debriefed on the rationale behind innovations like community service and reparatory sentence as alternatives to imprisonment for offences punishable by maximum of two-year jail terms. “Men having children out of wedlock should be punished because that is evidence of adultery,” Hon. Tomaino Ndam Njoya is reported to have suggested when Section 361(2) introducing the punishment of a married man’s adultery was discussed.
UPC MP, Hon. Robert Bapooh Lipot revealed that the atmosphere which prevailed during the discussions was quite convivial as the government minister offered sound explanations even for other criminalized behaviors such as the illegal sale of medication, rent fraud and the eviction of a spouse from the matrimonial home by any person other than the spouse of the victim, among others. The Committee is expected to present its report to the entire Chamber in the days ahead for adoption during plenary.