Gautier Zomissi is a general business and intellectual property lawyer who has been practicing in Cameroon since 2000 when he received his degree in private law. Mr. Zomissi has spent considerable time over the course of his ten year legal career developing his skills as a business and intellectual property attorney by receiving a graduate diploma in intellectual property law in 2004 and a masters of business law in 2005 both from the University of Yaounde II. Mr. Zomissi furthered his education by receiving his PhD in business law in 2007 from the University of Ngaoundere and is currently finishing up his diploma in banking, stock market, currency and finance capital markets law at the same institution.
Mr. Zomissi’s business legal career is marked by many accomplishments including negotiating business contracts, conducting tax, banking, and intellectual property litigation, as well as managing intangible assets of enterprises and providing general legal assistance to businesses and individuals. One of his most successful legal endeavors was to establish a professional civil society called BRAINTRUST which specializes in protecting intellectual property rights of individuals.
Mr. Zomissi has also been extensively involved in working and helping inmates on a daily basis in Cameroon’s prisons. He has frequently represented them in court and through these experiences developed complex understanding about their daily realities and struggles. Through this work, he was inspired to design his JusticeMakers project to combat the daily difficulties faced by inmates.
Cameroon’s judicial system is plagued by non-communication between the essential actors in the criminal system which often leads to blockages and slowdowns in executing criminal proceedings. This lack of fluid and seamless communication between these actors often results in inmates being imprisoned for periods extending well beyond their sentences as well as inmates being held in pretrial detention for excessively long periods of time. Inmates have been imprisoned without knowing their trial date or a way to communicate with judicial officials to confirm their date. Additionally, detainees who have been acquitted or fully served their sentence remain incarcerated because judicial officials are delinquent in establishing their release due to communication breakdowns between different actors in the system. Furthermore, communication issues extend beyond inmate incarceration lengths to include judges and parties who are unable to call key witnesses to testify because they cannot be located or arrestees unable to exercise their right to contact their attorney because judicial officials and inmates lack communication resources to reach their attorney. The combinations of these problems, which stem from a fragmented and broken communication platform between judicial actors, often lead to compromises in defendant’s rights.
Mr. Zomissi is using his $5,000 JusticeMakers Fellowship to empty the prisons of those who have already served their sentences but nonetheless remain in detention due to judicial delays; allow all detainees to be able to at any time inquire about the status of their case and receive their most current hearing date; accelerate prosecutions to reduce arrestee’s time in pretrial detention and allow other judicial actors to communicate at any time with prison inmates to collect necessary information in order to process their cases more efficiently. To accomplish these goals, Mr. Zomissi will create an office of intelligence and diligence to facilitate communication between different judicial actors; create a free telephone line in cooperation with the government to allow inmates to obtain urgent assistance and information relating to their case and create a phonebook with the numbers of various legal actors and make it widely available to facilitate communication within the judicial system. Through these means, Mr. Zomissi will significantly increase the communication within the judicial system of Cameroon which will in turn reduce the length of pretrial detention, reduce the length of detentions following acquittal or full service of the prison term, and allow detainee’s prompt assistance from their attorneys follow arrest.