The Cameroon Bar Association has urged the country’s government to find a lasting solution to the predicament faced by Cameroonian law students who are studying in Rwanda, but who have been refused the opportunity to sit for the Rwandan bar’s exams.
About 400 law students from Cameroon are affected, according to a statement by the Cameroon Bar Association on 15 September.
According to the association, Cameroonian law students in Rwanda have, since August 2022, been lobbying the Cameroon government about their exclusion from the Rwandan bar exams because the Cameroon authorities have not agreed to reciprocity, meaning that it does not want to offer Rwandan students in Cameroon the opportunity to sit for the bar exam in Cameroon.
“The authorities of Rwanda say there is no reciprocity of laws between the 1990 law on legal practice in Cameroon. That is, while Rwanda can admit Cameroonians in their law school and their bar association, Cameroon law does not allow Rwandans into the Cameroon bar in Cameroon,” barrister Ebah Justice Ntoko, a member of the Cameroon Bar Council, the body that coordinates bar activities, told University World News.
A Rwandan legal expert has also confirmed the dilemma to University World News.
Moise Nkundabarashi, the president of the Rwanda Bar Association, said foreign students from law schools who want to join the association should be from the countries who signed a reciprocity agreement with Rwanda.
“Foreign lawyers are required by the law to produce proof of reciprocity to be admitted at the Rwanda Bar Association. Cameroon has not signed the reciprocity pact with Rwanda, and that means students who graduate in Rwandan universities and want to join the association don’t fulfil the requirements,” said Nkundabarashi.
A diplomatic solution?
In a bid to find a lasting solution to the disalignment between the two countries’ laws, the Cameroon Bar Association is pushing the Cameroon government to seek a diplomatic understanding to bail out the frustrated students while they wait for the amendment to the Cameroon 1990 law.
Mbah Eric Mbah, the president of the Cameroon Bar Association, notified advocates and students of the Institute of Legal Practice and Development in Rwanda that he was invited to a working session by Mbella Mbella Lejeune, the Cameroon minister of external relations, according to the statement.
The Bar Council president was accompanied to the discussions by a high-level delegation, including barrister Kouamo Yves Kless, the general assembly president, barrister Ngo Minyogog Anne Yolande, the bar secretary, barrister Fouegoum Younta Douanla Adeline, the representative of the bar president for central, south and east regions, barrister Tamo David, the representative for external relations and Deputy Bar Secretary barrister Moussa Ganava.