Six months after the UN Security Council adopted a text compelling Gulf of Guinea countries to criminalise piracy and armed robbery at sea, Cameroon adopted a law to tackle piracy and improve safety of maritime navigation within its waters.
President Paul Biya signed the law on December 27, making Cameroon the second country in the region to launch such a legal framework on suppression of piracy and maritime offences. The first one was Nigeria, which adopted a similar law back in 2019.
The law is considered as a critical milestone in the Gulf of Guinea’s maritime security, as Cameroon’s national maritime authorities are empowered to punish any illegal activities threatening safe navigation within its territorial waters.
The law takes a harsh stance on offences regarding piracy, terrorism onboard ships, pollution of waterways and financing acts of piracy. For all these offences, the sentence is life imprisonment if a conviction is successful. Furthermore, fines range from $16,000 to $4 million depending on the crime.
A series of piracy incidents since 2019 prompted the government to take action. The primary goal was to guarantee security of ships at the Doula anchorage, using local armed guards onboard vessels. The legal framework now in place should act as a credible deterrent to pirate gangs.