29, June 2019
Switzerland said Friday it had summoned Cameroon’s ambassador over an “unacceptable” attack on a journalist in Geneva by men believed to be part of Cameroonian President Paul Biya’s security detail.
“Diplomatic procedures have been launched… Cameroon’s ambassador was summoned in Bern and the foreign ministry informed him that such incidents are unacceptable,” foreign ministry spokesman Georg Farago told AFP in an email. “Freedom of the press is protected and must be respected,” he added.
The ambassador was summoned on Thursday, a day after a journalist with the RTS broadcaster, Adrien Krause, was reportedly assaulted by a group of men outside Geneva’s luxury Intercontinental hotel on Wednesday.
He had been filming a clash between around a dozen demonstrators against Cameroon’s 86-year-old president Paul Biya, who has reportedly been staying at the hotel since Sunday, and men believed to be the president’s security detail, RTS reported.
The likely Cameroonian security agents suddenly attacked Krause, immobilising him and grabbing the bag containing most of his professional equipment, and also took his phone and wallet, it said.
After Geneva’s diplomatic police got involved and Krause filed a complaint over the assault, his property was returned to him.
Neither the Swiss foreign ministry nor Geneva police would confirm the identity of the attackers.
Farago meanwhile rejected reports that Biya’s security staff might enjoy diplomatic immunity.
“The people accompanying the president do not have any particular status and must respect Swiss law,” he said.
“Switzerland recalls that it is very attached to freedom of expression and of the press, and to the respect of the rules in public spaces,” he added.
Wednesday event came a day after some 40 protestors entered the Intercontinental and reportedly scuffled with Biya’s security staff in the lobby.
A large demonstration against Biya, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982, is also scheduled to take place in Geneva on Saturday.
The country’s embassy in Bern warned earlier this week that Cameroonian nationals living in various European countries were planning a “violent … protest against the presence of the Head of State, His Excellence Paul Biya, in Switzerland.”
“The embassy calls on the Cameroonian community in Switzerland and in neighbouring countries to turn their back on such demonstrations, which for some time have been an expression of hatred, violence and tribalism, which are all contrary to patriotism and love of Cameroon,” it said in a statement.