This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Republic of Cameroon (Republique du Cameroun/Republic of Cameroon), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Cameroon's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status.
Cameroon is a country located in Central Africa, bordering the Bight of Biafra. Cameroon is bounded by Chad, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. The capital of Cameroon is Yaounde. The official languages are English and French. However, 24 major African languages are represented in Cameroon. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 25 million. Cameroon has a disproportionately large youth population, and over 60% of the nation's populace is under the age of 25. Cameroon is a predominantly Christian country, with about 38% of the population Catholic and 26% Protestant. Islam is the largest minority religion in Cameroon, and about 21% of the country's population is Muslim. Cameroon is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
Constitution & Legal Structure
Cameroon is officially referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. However, despite officially being a presidential republic, President Paul Biya has controlled Cameroon since he took office in 1982. Despite slow movement towards more substantive democratic reform, Biya has maintained his position, even as election results have been contested as unfair by rivals.
The Constitution of Cameroon was adopted in 1972 (amended most recently in 2008). The Constitution establishes freedom of religion and affirms the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It further establishes Cameroon's system of government, which is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Cameroon is a mixed legal system that is based on English common law and French civil law. Cameroon's legal system has also been influenced by customary laws/traditions.
Constitutional Status of Islamic Law
Islamic law has no constitutional status in Cameroon.
Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law
Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Cameroon.
Dominant School of Islamic Law
Cameroon has no official school of Islamic law. The majority of Muslims in Cameroon do not associate with any particular denomination; about 27% are Sunnī, 12% are Aḥmadī, and 3% are Shīʿī.
Sources of Law for Legal Research
For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].