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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 192nd session
(Quito, 27 March 2013)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Dieudonné Ambassa Zang, a member of the National Assembly of Cameroon, and to the resolution it adopted at its 190th session (April 2012),

Recalling the following information on file:

  • Mr. Ambassa Zang, Minister of Public Works from August 2002 to December 2004 and known, according to the source, for having fought corruption within that ministry, was elected in 2007 on the ticket of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Rally;

  • On 14 July 2009, the Bureau of the National Assembly met to examine a request to lift Mr. Ambassa Zang’s parliamentary immunity filed by the Minister of Justice; the grounds advanced for the request were misappropriation of public funds managed by Mr. Ambassa Zang when he was Minister of Public Works; the Bureau postponed consideration of the request, its members taking the view that the matter had to be thoroughly examined before they could rule on it; on 7 August 2009, the Bureau, meeting in extraordinary session, lifted Mr. Ambassa Zang’s parliamentary immunity; although Mr. Ambassa Zang left Cameroon on 12 July 2009, he had a defence note sent on 3 August 2009 to all members of the Bureau; there is no indication that the note was included in the file before the Bureau;

  • According to the authorities, the accusations against Mr. Ambassa Zang stem from an audit prompted by a complaint by the French Development Agency (AFD), the funding source for the renovation of the Wouri Bridge, for which Mr. Ambassa Zang had been responsible; according to the Prosecutor General, State companies, ministries and other State structures managing public funds are subject to annual audits by the Supreme State Audit Office (CONSUPE), which reviews the State’s management; the Minister of Justice has linked the audit of Mr. Ambassa Zang’s management to the fight against corruption initiated by the Cameroonian State in 2005;

  • According to the Minister Delegate to the Office of the President in charge of the Supreme State Audit Office, the final audit report was submitted to the Head of State, who opted for criminal proceedings on a charge of misappropriation of public funds because of the need, highlighted by the international community, to put public finances on a sound footing; the file had therefore been referred to the Minister of Justice; a new, thorough examination had been carried out of the accounts and, after the lifting of Mr. Ambassa Zang’s parliamentary immunity, the file had been handed over to the Prosecutor General of the Court of Appeal; the case was at the preliminary investigation stage;

  • The source affirms that the provisions of Article 11 of Law No. 74/18 of 5 December 1974 on control of authorized officials, administrators and managers in charge of overseeing public expenditure and State enterprises, as amended and finalized in 1976, were not respected; it stresses that the accusations should have been dealt with by the Budgetary and Financial Discipline Council and that Law No. 74/18 was intended to protect the managers of public funds insofar as Articles 10 and 12 thereof set out guarantees relating, inter alia, to procedure, the rights of the defence and appeal mechanisms; it highlights in this respect that, in cases handled by the Council, the accused have the possibility to be represented, in their absence, by counsel, unlike in criminal proceedings;

  • According to the source, Mr. Ambassa Zang has replied with defence memoranda to each of the accusations, which he has rejected as unfounded; the few CONSUPE documents that Mr. Ambassa Zang has been able to obtain point to no wrongdoing or misappropriation in his favour of any sum whatsoever; the source affirms that the acts of which Mr. Ambassa Zang is accused can be seen at worst as mismanagement of public funds and in no way amount to an offence; according to the source, the final audit report was not forwarded to Mr. Ambassa Zang; moreover, it is clear that at least one new accusation was apparently introduced into the file submitted to the judicial authorities but not raised in the request for information originally addressed to him;

  • The source affirms that Mr. Ambassa Zang cannot at present return to Cameroon because he would be arrested as a fugitive without ever having been sentenced or prosecuted, and that his safety is no longer guaranteed in Cameroon,
Considering that the authorities have repeatedly stated that Mr. Ambassa Zang is not specifically targeted by the investigation, which concerns many others, all of whom are currently at liberty, that the authorities therefore suggest that Mr. Ambassa Zang return to Cameroon to defend himself before the judicial authorities in the case, in which only his testimony is missing, and that the source has replied that the accusations brought against Mr. Ambassa Zang have to do with objective facts and the relevant documents are available at the Ministry of Public Works, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Tenders Regulation Agency and donors such as the AFD and its German counterpart, KFW (the Committee has asked the French and German parliaments for assistance in verifying this information with their respective donor agencies),

Considering that Mr. Ambassa Zang’s common-law wife was attacked soon after the 2011 mission to Cameroon from the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians left the country, and that, in a message addressed to Mr. Ambassa Zang, the perpetrators vaunted their crime with an explicit reference to the IPU mission, whose action concerning the parliamentarian was known only to a limited circle of senior officials; noting that, in his letter of 9 August 2011, the Minister of Justice states that he has ordered an enquiry into the matter,

Considering that, according to an article published on 16 September 2011 in the Cameroonian daily Le Jour and in a number of other media, a new investigation was opened into Mr. Ambassa Zang concerning the manner in which contracts were awarded for laying asphalt on the bridge over the Moungo river in 2004 (the first bridge over this river bordering the coastal and south-west regions having collapsed), and that Mr. Ambassa Zang exercised his right of reply, underscoring inter alia that the urgent measures needed in order to find a speedy solution to the problem of the collapsed bridge were decided by an interministerial committee presided over by the Prime Minister on the orders of the President of the Republic and that the contract for maintenance of the detour roads was formalized and signed by the Minister for Economic Affairs, who guaranteed that they would be paid out of his ministry’s budget for special State works,

Considering that, according to the source, the prosecution of Mr. Ambassa Zang must be seen in the context of “Opération Épervier” (Operation Casting Net), which was widely criticized as a campaign originally intended to combat corruption and misappropriation of public funds but instead used to purge critically-minded public figures who, like Mr. Ambassa Zang, expressed views not always in line with those of their party; thus the Vice-President of the National Assembly, in a statement to the press as he left a meeting of the Assembly’s Bureau on 14 July 2009, reportedly expressed surprise at how fast the investigation of Mr. Ambassa Zang’s case had been completed and described the lifting of his parliamentary immunity as a settlement of scores; recalling the concerns expressed by human rights agencies, in particular the United Nations Human Rights Committee, on the independence of the judiciary in Cameroon,

Bearing in mind that Cameroon is party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is thus bound to respect the fundamental rights therein guaranteed, such as the rights to freedom of expression, to freedom and security of person, and to a fair trial ensuring the rights of the defence,

  1. Notes with regret the absence of a response from the Cameroonian authorities and deplores the fact that nothing seems to have been done by the competent authorities to facilitate a satisfactory settlement of the case, even though it is ten years since the acts alleged against Mr. Ambassa Zang occurred and four years since his parliamentary immunity was lifted;

  2. Re-emphasizes that the authorities opted to institute criminal proceedings, which, unlike the procedure before the Budgetary and Financial Discipline Council, do not allow the accused to be represented by a lawyer in their absence; repeats its convictionthat this was done precisely with a view to arguing that the case cannot proceed unless Mr. Ambassa Zang presents himself to the judicial authorities in Cameroon; notes in this regard that Mr. Ambassa Zang has provided extensive replies to the accusations known to him and is willing to provide additional information should that be necessary;

  3. Reaffirms the doubts consistently expressed about the fairness of the proceedings against Mr. Ambassa Zang; remains convinced thatthe conditions are not met for the equitable and objective treatment of this case should Mr. Ambassa Zang return to Cameroon; again considers that the information published in the media about another investigation would tend to justify those fears;

  4. Again urges the competent authorities to provide information on the outcome of the investigation into the attack against Mr. Ambassa Zang’s common-law wife after the Committee’s mission to Cameroon in May 2011 and reminds the authorities that they have a duty to prosecute the perpetrators and prevent any other act of intimidation against Mr. Ambassa Zang’s relatives;

  5. Invites the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent executive, judicial and parliamentary authorities, including the President of Cameroon;

  6. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.
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