The Cameroonian government and security services should immediately reverse a series of repressive measures that have produced a crisis of media freedom in the country, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) announced at the weekend. In a report sent to The London Evening Postthat we are publishing in full, CPJ accused Cameroonian authorities embarking on a campaign to deny press freedom to the people of Cameroon and harassing several journalists and media house owners. The report reads:
In recent weeks, authorities arrested a journalist covering protests; suspended dozens of newspapers and broadcasters’ permission to operate, permanently banned three newspapers from publishing and their publishers from practicing journalism, and sanctioned dozens more journalists. The speaker of the National Assembly in November called the use of social media “a new form of terrorism.” According to media reports, Cameroon’s Ministry of Communications last month asked companies to cut the internet. 16 months after his arrest, Radio France Internationale journalist Ahmed Abba remains in prison, awaiting a verdict in his military trial. “Each day that Cameroon’s government perpetrates ever-wider attacks on the press, the more it appears repressive and desperate,” CPJ West Africa Representative Peter Nkanga said. “Cameroon should immediately and unconditionally release radio journalist Ahmed Abba and stop trying to muzzle the media.”
Masked security officers on December 11 arrested Zigoto Tchaya, a reporter with the broadcaster France 24, after Tchaya interviewed barrister Harmony Bobga, who articulated demands of demonstrators from predominantly Anglophone regions of Cameroon who say the Francophone central government has marginalized English-speaking Cameroonians, according to media reports. Tchaya was released after a day, according to media reports. Anglophone regions of Cameroon have seen street protests, sit-ins, and labor strikes in recent months. Last week, at least four people were killed when police forcibly dispersed a protest in the city of Bamenda, near the Nigerian border, according to press reports and human rights groups.