CPJ requests information on jailed Cameroonian media

This posting is an important update by the Committee to protect journalists and the freedom of the press worldwide:

March 1, 2017

Issa Tchiroma Bakary
Minister of Communication
Hotel de Ville
Yaoundé

Via send: +237 222 23 30 22;

Your Excellency,

We at the Committee to shield Journalists, an independent press freedom advocacy organization, are concerned about compounding reviews of measures to restrict the press in Cameroon, and request clarification about the reported imprisonment of at least 8 journalists in the country.

During the conversation on February 15, a person told us that Cameroon’s federal government was “completely transparent” and that “people can speak their mind. inch You further said no reporter was in prison in Cameroon which journalists should not “pretend to be imprisoned for their work. ” You asked for that we forward you a list of held journalists. We did this for yourself the same day and repeatedly yet unsuccessfully attempted to follow up with you straight.

On February twenty, the National Committee on Individual Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF), the official body, confirmed the detention associated with at least five journalists. Since then we now have heard reports of at least 3 other journalists jailed in Cameroon. We therefore request your support in reconciling your contention that will no journalists are jailed within Cameroon with the conclusions of NCHRF, and request clarification on the location from the following journalists, any criminal costs against them, what alleged actions gave rise to those charges, as well as the status of any criminal procedures against them:

  • Atia Azohnwi , the journalist with Sunlight newspaper and the Buea head of the Cameroon Association associated with English Speaking Journalists, whom safety forces arrested with Amos Fofung on February 9, 2017, within Molyko, according to the NCHRF. According to the statement published on The Sun’s Fb page, security forces took Azohnwi, The Sun’s political desk editor, towards the Molyko precinct and then to the Judicial Police in Buea, before moving him to the Judicial Police train station in Yaoundé.
  • Amos Fofung , Buea agency chief of The particular Guardian Post , whom protection forces arrested with Atia Azohnwi on February 9, 2017, within Molyko, according to the NCHRF. According to The Sun ‘s Facebook page, police first held your pet in Molyko before transferring your pet to the Judicial Police station within Buea, and then in Yaoundé.
  • Thomas Awah Younger , a journalist for plus publisher of the monthly Aghem Messenger journal, whom police arrested in Bamenda on January 2, was used in Yaoundé that evening before getting sent to Kondengui Central prison fourteen days later, a Yaoundé based Cameroonian journalist told CPJ, speaking upon condition of anonymity for anxiety about retribution. Awah Junior remains within Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé according to a Yaoundé Military Tribunal document released by Cameroonian tumblr Albert Nchinda.
  • Mfor Ndong , publisher from the Bamenda-based newspaper Tone of voice of the Voiceless , whom safety forces arrested in Buea upon February 9, 2017, according to the NCHRF.
  • Hans Achumba , a journalist for Jakiri Community Radio in the Bui Department of the Northwest Region of Cameroon, whom police arrested on accusations of spreading opposition lawmaker Paul Wirba’s calls to resist the federal government in Yaoundé, according to the NCHRF. Achumba remains in Kondengui Central Jail in Yaoundé, according to the Yaoundé Army Tribunal document and a Cameroonian reporter who spoke to CPJ around the condition of anonymity, for anxiety about retribution.
  • Bernard Finnian , publisher of Life Time newspapers, whom security forces arrested upon January 27, 2017, three times after he published an article alleging two English-speaking youths had passed away in state custody, according to a good English-language Cameroonian newspaper The Star . He too has been used in Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé, according to the same military court record and additional Cameroonian journalists who talked to CPJ on the condition associated with anonymity, for fear of retribution.
  • Jean Claude Agbortem , co-founder of the online publication Camer Veritas , whom law enforcement arrested on January 28, 2017, according to Nchinda .
  • Medjo Lewis , editor of Una Dé tente Libre , who police arrested on February twenty two, 2017, and whom the Bafoussam High Court sentenced to 2 yrs in prison and a fine associated with 10 million Central African francs (US $16, 131) for defamation, according to two Cameroonian journalists which spoke to CPJ on the problem of anonymity, for fear of retribution.

In recent months, the federal government has taken increasingly drastic steps to control the rights to transmit plus receive information in Cameroon, especially in predominantly Anglophone regions. Press outlets have been suspended, and media have been banned from practicing their particular craft, according to CPJ research . The internet continues to be inaccessible to residents of the northwestern and southwestern regions of Cameroon given that January 17, 2017–“an appalling breach of [the] directly to freedom of expression, ” since U. N. Special Rapporteur upon freedom of expression David Kaye noted on February 10, 2017.

Particularly in light of such measures to restrict the media, we have been concerned that Atia Azohnwi, Amos Fofung, Thomas Awah Junior, Mfor Ndong, Hans Achumba, Tim Finnian, Jean Claude Agbortem, and Medjo Lewis are imprisoned for their act as journalists, and respectfully ask that you simply clarify the reasons for their detention, exactly where they are held, and their present legal status.

Truly,

Angela Quintal
Africa Program Coordinator

CC:
Sè tondji Adjovi, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, United Nations Office of the High Office on Human Rights
Doctor Divine Chemuta Banda, Chairman, Nationwide Commission of Human Rights plus Freedoms in Cameroon
Brian Kaye, United Nations Special Rapporteur in the promotion and protection of the directly to freedom of opinion and appearance
Simon Lyonga, National Chief executive, Cameroon Association of English Talking Journalist (CAMASEJ)
Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission Chief
Michel Tommo Monthé, Long term Representative of Cameroon to the United Nations
Georges Nakseu, Directeur, Dé mocratie et Droits de l’Homme, Company Internationale de la Francophonie
Denis Nkwebo, President, Cameroon Partnership of Journalists
Faith Pansy Tlakula, Special Rapporteur on Independence of Expression, The African Payment on Human and Peoples’ Legal rights

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