Section 9(2) of the Constitution of Cameroon relating to emergency regimes, in its French version provides for "l'état d'exception" whereas the English version of the same text provides for "a state of siege". In this paper I show that French and English being the official languages in Cameroon, the wording "l'état d'exception", which literally means "state of exception" in English, cannot be understood to be a state of siege which translated into genuine French would mean "l'état de siège". Whereas in l'état d'exception there is a concentration of power in the hands of the executive and the provisional abolition of the separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers, in a state of siege responsibility for during a crisis the security of the city is transferred from the administrative authorities to the army. The current provisions of section 9(2) of the Constitution of Cameroon are confusing and I therefore examine the fundamental differences between the two emergency institutions from legal and historical perspectives. I emphasise the impact of such confusion on human rights and the rule of law in Cameroon. In essence, I demonstrate that "l'état d'exception" and "a state of siege" as currently defined by section 9(2), appear to be mechanisms allowing gross human rights violations and conferring comprehensive powers designed to paralyse the rule of law.