3, March 2017
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a U.S. based independent press freedom advocacy organization, has tasked the government to give clarifications regarding the reported imprisonment of at least eight journalists arrested in the wake of the crisis rocking the country’s English speaking regions.
In an open letter to the Minister of Communication and government spokesperson, CPJ said the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF), had confirmed the detention of at least five journalists as of February 20.
“Since then we have heard reports of at least three other journalists jailed in Cameroon,” CPJ said. It reminded the communication minister that he claimed media practitioners in Cameroon “can speak their mind” and there was no journalist was in prison in country. “You requested that we forward you a list of detained journalists. We did this privately the same day and repeatedly but unsuccessfully attempted to follow up with you directly,” independent press freedom advocacy group reminded the minister citing a February 15 conversation.
CPJ said it is requesting the minister’s assistance in reconciling his contention that no journalists are jailed in Cameroon with the conclusions of NCHRF, “and request clarification on the location” of Atia Tilarious Azohnwi of The Sun newspaper, Amos Fofung of The Guardian Post, Thomas Awah Junior, of the monthly Aghem Messenger magazine, Mfor Ndong of Voice of the Voiceless, Hans Achumba, of Jakiri Community Radio and Tim Finnian, publisher of Life Time newspaper among others.
It urged the minister to clarify the reasons for their detention, where they are held, and their current legal status. The government spokesperson was yet to officially react to the letter which CPJ said was faxed to his office.
CPJ noted in the letter that it is aware the government has taken “increasingly drastic” steps to suppress the rights to transmit and receive information in Cameroon, particularly in predominantly Anglophone regions in recent months. Media outlets have also been suspended, and journalists have been banned from practicing their craft, according to the CPJ.