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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Cameroon

In Cameroon, the right to a healthy environment is protected in the Preamble to the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon. The Preamble reads: “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.”

Law No. 96/12 establishes the Regime of Environmental Management in Cameroon, serving as a legal and normative framework and roadmap guiding and managing national environmental policies.

Cameroon’s national environmental policy is defined by the President of the Republic; the policy defines the environment as ‘all the natural or artificial elements and the biogeochemical balances in which they participate as well as the economic, social, and cultural factors which favor the existence, transformation, and development of the environment, living organisms and human activities”

Featured Legislation

1974: Ordinance No. 74/1 was passed to established rules governing land tenure.

1974: Ordinance No. 74/2 was approved to govern State Lands.

1974: Ordinance No. 74/3 was signed into force, overseeing procedures governing expropriation for a public purpose and the terms and conditions of compensation.

1976: Decree No. 76-166 of 27 was created, establishing the terms and conditions for the management of national lands in Cameroon.

1994: Law No. 94/01 laid down forestry, wildlife, and fisheries regulations in an attempt to ensure that sustainable management practices are followed across the country. Of note, the Forestry Law gives rights to use the land and resources for the benefit of neighboring communities.

1996: Law No 96/12 was inaugurated, laying down the framework for an Environmental management policy, taking into account the general principles of international environmental law: precaution, prevention, polluter pays, sustainable development, public participation and cooperation. Law No 96/12 also sets out environmental impact assessment (EIA) conditions and processes for all projects relating to economic and social development projects which may, potentially, cause damage to the environment.

1998: Law No. 98/015 was created to regulate establishments classified as dangerous, unhygienic, and obnoxious.

1999, Law No. 99/013 was approved, providing for Environmental Impact Assessments and monitoring tools for restricting the adverse effects of petroleum activities on humanity and the environment.

2003: Order No. 016/PM was posited.  This Order creates a first category operational technical unit called “Mount Cameroon Technical Operational Unit” or Technical Operational Unit in the Mount Cameroon region, hereinafter referred to as “UTO”. The UTO's mission is to ensure the management of forest resources with a view to the long-term conservation of biodiversity in the Mount Cameroon region and to improve the living conditions of the populations, in concert with governmental and non-governmental institutions. governments responsible for implementing the participatory biodiversity conservation strategy.

2005: Order No. 0069/MINEP was brought into force, overseeing the different categories of projects that require an environmental impact assessment.

2005: The National Strategy on Sustainable Water Management and Soils; the Rural Sector Development Strategy Paper; and the Forest Environment Sector Program were implemented.

2005: Decree No. 2005/0577 was signed, allowing citizen’s access to courts where they reasonably believe a development project may destroy the environment.

2008: Decree No. 2008/064 laid down the procedures for administering the National Fund for the Environment and Sustainable Development.

2013: Decree No. 2013/0171 was enacted, setting regulations for conducting environmental and social impact studies, whilst prescribing stakeholder consultation as well as public hearings on development projects with possible impacts on the environment.

2018: Decree No. 2018/144 on the reorganization of the Cameroon Water Utilities Corporation was tabled. This decree carries the reorganization of the Cameroon Water Utilities Corporation, abbreviated CAMWATER. The purpose of CAMWATER is to manage the assets and rights allocated to the public drinking water service, as well as the operation of the public service for the production, transport and distribution of drinking water in urban and peri-urban areas. As such, it has the following missions. In terms of the management of assets and rights assigned to the public drinking water service: planning, carrying out studies, project management, research and management of financing for all the infrastructure and works necessary for the collection, production, transport, storage and distribution of drinking water, etc. With regard to the operation of the public service for the production, transport and distribution of drinking water: the operation of the means of production, transport and distribution of drinking water; the production, transport and distribution of drinking water, etc.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • Cameroon is struggling with combating wildlife crime, according to a recent publication. The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is considered to be a serious and growing national, sub-regional, regional and global problem for the country, as organized criminal groups have monopolized the trade. These criminal syndicates extend trans-border poaching activities, threatening the nation’s biodiversity, food security, political stability and national, and global security. Extremely rich in fauna and flora, Cameroon is a target of indiscriminate poaching activities due to the extensive illegal bushmeat trade. As a result, major wildlife species such as the elephant, big cats, great apes, and black rhinoceros have been pushed to the brink of extinction. What is needed, according to law enforcement officials, is a coordinated effort to investigate, prosecute and punish wildlife offences in Cameroon. Frontline law enforcement officials require the capacity and resources to administer surveillance and investigative operations in order to enhance the success in wildlife crime detection. The coordinated effort must also include educating judges and other judicial actors on environmental law and wildlife law, creating greater deterrence to wildlife crime.
  • Cameroon’s forests are under government ownership and more than a third of these estates are allocated as private logging concessions. The decision to hand over these forested regions has led to the illegal displacement of indigenous Baka communities from their ancestral forests, excluding these peoples from resources required for subsistence and medicine, but also the preservation of cultural and religious identity. The Extreme Citizen Science group (ExCiteS), based at University College London, is working collaboratively with the Baka through the creation of participatory mapping projects which connect indigenous knowledge and values with government decision-makers. The goal is to create an inclusive mapping process where the Baka weigh in on what to map and why. Heralded as a tool of empowerment among Indigenous communities, participatory mapping projects build trust with community members, ensuring that indigenous knowledge is accepted as locally relevant, creating a sense of ownership in conservation programs.

References and Further Reading


Minister of the Environment, Nature Protection and Sustainable Development: ​​