Customary Law in Anglophone Cameroon and the Repugnancy Doctrine: An Insufficient Complement to Human Rights
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/F742253947
This paper examines the application of the repugnancy doctrine in the administration of customary law in Anglophone Cameroon and unravels the relationship it fosters with human rights. The paper adopts a qualitative methodology grounded in doctrinal research and argues that state courts of Anglophone Cameroon have shown an exaggerated reliance on the doctrine and have readily invoked it as an alternative measure to incorporate human rights norms in their jurisprudence. The inference to be drawn from this development is that state courts are employing the repugnancy doctrine as a medium to engage with human rights in the enforcement of customary law. This is an unfortunate development given that, in the absence of clear standards of application, the repugnancy doctrine provides wide discretionary latitude to judges who, as case law reveals, may deflect interest in the enforcement of human rights. Consequently, the doctrine has been relied upon to justify standards that are contrary to those professed by human rights principles. The paper asserts forcefully that, irrespective of its nexus with human rights, the doctrine remains an unreliable alternative to human rights. It advocates for the repeal of the doctrine and equally encourages state courts to engage more with human rights, as enshrined in Cameroon’s 1996 constitution, which, unlike the repugnancy doctrine, provides precise and unambiguous standards.