On 7th February 2018, the Head of State signed a decree putting in place Cameroon’s Constitutional Council, its President, its members and later on, its Secretary General.
Amongst the eleven members is one woman, Judge Florence Rita Arrey who has enjoyed wide acclaim nationally and internationally.
Before her appointment into the Constitutional Council, the prolific judge was Director of Judicial Affairs in the Ministry of Justice, Cameroon since 2014.
On the International scene, the Justice Florence Rita Arrey held many positions within the Criminal Tribunal of Rwanda.
Born on 18th May 1948 in Buea, Justice Florence Rita Arrey attended secondary education at the Queen of the Rosary College (QRC), Okoyong – Mamfe.
She later went to CCAST Bambili for high school and left to the University of Lagos Nigeria.
After an LLB Hons, Judge Florence Tita Arrey got enrolled in the University of London’s Advanced Institute for Legal Studies.
She obtained a Diploma in Legal Drafting and a Certificate in International Law, and returned to Cameroon.
Not satisfied with her academic credentials, she got admission into the Advanced School of Administration and Magistracy (ENAM).
In 1974, Justice Florence Rita Arrey became the first woman to be appointed State Counsel of the Court of First Instance in Cameroon.
She also held the post of President of the Court of First Instance, Tiko.
She was also on time Advocate General of the Court of Appeal, Vice President of the Court of Appeal and Judge of the High Court.
In 1990, the learned Judge was first woman to be appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal and in 2000, she was appointed Judge of the Supreme Court of Cameroon.
It is worth mentioning that Justice Florence Rita Arrey is highly respected for some milestone judgments metted out in relation to the rights of women and the girl child.
This is especially in cases on ownership of property and the right to succession in Cameroon.
Out of Cameroon
In 2003, the United Nations elected Florence Rita Arrey ad litem Judge of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda with rank of Under Secretary General by the General Assembly.
Before the election, the woman of law had been Vice President of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and Judge of the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunal (elected in 2012).
Throughout her deliberations during this period, it was clear that she consistently said “No” to impunity.
She gave equal importance to her private and social life that’s why she is part of many associations including:
– The International Association of Women Judges (Vice President)
– International Fund for Agricultural Development (FIDA)
– Common Law Magistrates and Judges Association (First President of the Cameroon Chapter)
– Society for the Reform of Criminal Law
– Cameroon Association of Women Judges (President)
Before the appointed into the Constitutional Council of Cameroon on 7th February 2017, she had received distinctions for hard work.
Justice Florence Rita Arrey was among the 50 women awarded medals as part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Cameroon’s Independence in 2010.
She was also named one of Cameroon’s 50 most influential women.