Introduction to the legal system of Cameroon

Cameroon is, according to the preamble of its Constitution N° 96/06 of 18th January 1996, a unitary State composed of territorial decentralised collectivities of the republic. These are the regions and the municipalities. Article 62 of the said constitution states that the country has 10 regions. The decentralised local collectivities are moral persons in public law. They enjoy administrative and financial autonomy for the management of regional and local matters. The laws and texts deriving from legislative, executive and judicial powers apply to each region.

According to the first article of the constitution, Cameroon recognizes and protects traditional values that conform to democratic principles, human rights and law. It ensures the equality of all before the law. In this regard the preamble of the constitution affirms the commitment of Cameroon to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations, the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and all international conventions relating thereto and duly ratified.

Currently in Cameroon, the specific law regulating health research and the protection of research participants is still in preparation.

As far as the evaluation of biomedical research protocols is concerned, the Order of the Minister of Public Health of 22 October 1987 on the creation and organization of an ethics committee on research involving human beings (MINSANTE ORDER) is now the official text specific to the matter. Article 9 of this text explicitly refers the evaluation process of the Protocol to the Declaration of Helsinki and to the Covenant of the United Nations. There are in addition institutional ethics committees with one accredited (CIRCB Ethics Committee) by the Ministry of Public Health for the evaluation of research protocols to be implemented in the institution concerned.

At the administrative level, the Ministry of Public Health (MINSANTE) is responsible for the study and implementation of health policy in Cameroon; according to Article 2 of the Decree of the President of the Republic N˚ 2002/209 of 19 August 2002 on the organization of the Ministry of Public Health (hereinafter referred MINSANTE Organization). Articles 25, 26 and 27 of the MINSANTE Organization gives the Division of Health Operation Research (DROS) the charge of promoting clinical and operational research in health, monitoring the compliance of operational research in health with the principles of bioethics and the dissemination of the results of biomedical research. The Decision N˚ 0286/D/MSP/CAB of July 05th 2004 of the Minister of Public Health establishing a Scientific Advisory and Strategic Board in health in the Ministry of Public Health creates a Commission to support this Ministry in the setting of priorities for health research, the evaluation of the implementation of research projects and the exploitation of research results within the department.

According to Article 2 of the Decree of the President of the Republic N˚ 2005/091 of 29th March 2005 on the Organization of the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation (below designated MINRESI Organization), the Ministry of Scientific Research and innovation (MINRESI) is responsible for the development, implementation and evaluation of government policy in scientific research and innovation. Article 32 of the MINRESI Organization attributes to the Division of Valorisation and Vulgarisation of research results, the charge of preparing and monitoring the implementation of the national policy concerning the valorisation and vulgarisation of research, in collaboration with the authorities concerned. The Order N˚ 00002/MINRESI/BOO/COO of 18 May 2006sets the conditions for granting a research license by MINRESI.

The regulation of professional ethics and deontology plays a significant role in the protection of research participants in Cameroon. The exercise of the professions of Doctors and Pharmacists is regulated by the Decree N° 83-166 of April 12th 1983 of the Code of Medical Ethics, the Law No. 90-036 of 10th August 1990 relating to the Organization and Practice of Medicine and by Decree N ˚ 92/261 of July 17th 1992 fixing the modalities for applying certain provisions of Law n˚90-035 of August 10th 1990 organizing the profession of pharmacists.

With regard to research involving human beings, there is not yet a single law covering the whole subject. The legislation is therefore scattered in various laws applying to different sectors of health and the protection of human rights. There are, thus, particular norms in some fields, such as transplantation, plant protection, and environmental protection (see the list below).

Bibliography
  • Law n˚ 96-06 of 18t January 1996 to amend the Constitution of 2 June 1972. Preamble, article 62
  • Order of the Minister of Public Health of 22 October 1987 on the creation and organization of an ethics committee on research involving human beings (MINSANTE ORDER): Art. 9
  • Decision N˚ 0286/D/MSP/CAB of July 05th 2004 of the Minister of Public Health establishing a Scientific Advisory and Strategic Board in health in the Ministry of Public Health.
  • Decree of the President of the Republic N˚ 2002/209 of 19 August 2002 on the organization of the Ministry of Public Health, MINSANTE Organization: Art. 1, 2, 26, 26 et 27
  • Decree of the President of the Republic N˚ 2005/091 of 29th March 2005 on the Organization of the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, MINRESI Organization: Art. 32.
  • Order N˚ 00002/MINRESI/BOO/COO of 18 May 2006 sets the conditions for granting a research license by MINRESI.
  • Decree N° 83-166 of April 12th 1983 relating to the Code of Medical Ethics (Code of Medical Ethics)
  • Law No. 90-036 of 10th August 1990 relating to the Organization and Practice of Medicine
  • Law n˚90-035 of August 10th 1990 organizing the profession of pharmacists
  • Decree N ˚ 92/261 of July 17th 1992 fixing the modalities for applying certain provisions of Law n˚90-035 of August 10th 1990 organizing the profession of pharmacists
Last modified: Thursday, 16 August 2012, 10:50 AM