Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not implement the law effectively and often used it to settle political scores. The penal code identifies different offenses as corruption, including influence peddling, involvement in a prohibited employment, and nondeclaration of conflict of interest. Reporting of corruption is encouraged through exempting whistleblowers from criminal proceedings. Corruption in official examinations is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment, fines up to two million CFA francs ($3,400), or both. During the year the National Anti-Corruption Commission (CONAC) instituted a toll-free number to encourage citizens to denounce acts of corruption of which they were victims or witnesses. In addition there were a number of organizations under a common platform known as the National Platform of Cameroonian Civil Society Organizations, which under the 2018 Finance Law was provided a budget of 150 million CFA francs ($255,000). The funds were to permit the organization to monitor the implementation of projects by government entities to confirm that resources disbursed are used appropriately. Nevertheless, corruption remained pervasive at all levels of government. The judiciary was not always free to independently investigate and prosecute corruption cases.
Corruption: The government continued Operation Sparrow Hawk, which was launched in 2006 to fight corruption, including embezzlement of public funds. As in the previous year, the Special Criminal Court (SCC) opened new corruption cases and issued verdicts on some pending cases. On May 4, the SCC placed Emmanuel Lebou, Hamadou Haman, and Aïssatou Boullo Bouba in pretrial detention at Yaounde Central Prison. Authorities accused the three officials from the ministries of finance and communication of fraudulent manipulation of government payrolls, including payments of fictitious salaries and other allowances, which resulted in losses worth hundreds of millions of CFA francs (several thousand dollars). In August the SCC delivered its verdict in the prosecution case against Doumana Louis Roger, the former transport delegate for the Northwest Region, and Ayafor Mefor Quita Fozo, a contractor with the Ministry of Transport. They were under prosecution since 2016 for misappropriating fiscal revenues at the Northwest Regional Delegation of Transport in Bamenda. The accused were sentenced to 15 and 10 years in prison, respectively, and were required to pay jointly more than 156 million CFA ($265,000) to the public treasury.
Financial Disclosure: The constitution requires senior government officials, including members of the cabinet, to declare their assets, but a law passed to implement this provision had itself never been implemented.