Prosecuting the Offence of Misappropriation of Public Funds: An Insight into Cameroon's Special Criminal Court
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The fight against the misappropriation of public funds for private gain perpetrated by individuals, especially public servants, enjoys different degrees of commitment by different countries. The enactment of laws and establishment of institutional mechanisms towards this end are partly a reflection of the attainment of such mission and can also be the measure by which such a commitment can be assessed. Rated as one of the most corrupt countries in Africa by the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, the Republic of Cameroon recently enacted a law that created a Special Criminal Court. This comes as one of the most robust and significant legislative developments in the fight against misappropriation of public funds as its mandate is to bring to justice persons who cause loss of at least 50.000.000 CFA Francs [equivalent to about USD 100.000] relating to misappropriation of public funds and other related offences provided for in the Cameroon Penal Code and International Conventions ratified by Cameroon.’ This paper examines the offence of misappropriation of public funds, and looks at aspects of the Special Criminal Court as provided by the Law that established it as well as supplementary legislation enacted to address specific issues related to the Special Criminal Court as well as the offence for which individuals are prosecuted. As a bold step in fighting and defeating the ‘invisible enemy amongst us’ (that is, corruption), this paper argues that with such an institutional mechanism that has docked numerous top-notch politicians and former cabinet members for trial, it becomes an example to emulate and confirms that corruption can be fought if, and only when, the political will to do so is present.