World Association of News Publishers

WAN-IFRA Board Press Freedom Resolution - Cameroon, June 2017

WAN-IFRA Board Press Freedom Resolution - Cameroon, June 2017

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The Board of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), meeting in Durban, South Africa on 7th June 2017, calls for renewed global solidarity with the Cameroonian press in the wake of the arrest of journalists, continuing attacks on the press, and the government’s hard-line stance against independent, free media.

The Board of WAN-IFRA denounces a systematic campaign by the Cameroonian state to attack and intimidate the press as a means of silencing criticism and marginalising opposition voices. The Board notes how the assault has intensified since December 2016, when demonstrations by Anglophone Cameroonians increased in the western regions of the country, and recognises with increasing alarm the consistent use of anti-terrorism legislation against the press.

The Board of WAN-IFRA regrets to acknowledge the pervasive culture of fear that has emerged within Cameroonian society as a result of the on-going crackdown against media deemed to be critical of government. The arrest of multiple journalists, editors, and publishers, combined with suspension orders against media outlets has contributed to pervasive self-censorship, which is inconsistent with basic conditions of media freedom.

The Board was outraged by the unjust sentencing of RFI journalist Ahmed Abba to ten years in prison in April, as well as the use of a Cameroonian military court to conduct his trial. It notes with similarly grave concern the on-going detention and further use of military courts to try journalists, including Tim Finnian of Lifetime Magazine, who was arrested on 27 January. Military courts should not be used against members of the press, who are civilians. The Board denounces the classification of critical journalists as terrorists.

The Board acknowledges the resumption of internet service to Cameroon’s western regions in April, but remains concerned about Cameroonian authorities stated willingness to re-initiate its suspension. Access to the internet, among other tools of the press, promotes adequate public access to information and the ability for the media to do their job.

The Board of WAN-IFRA supports the request for information about detained journalists made by the Committee to Protect Journalists in an open letter to the Cameroonian Minister of Information Issa Tchiroma Bakary on 1 March. The Board notes with concern the Cameroonian government’s disregard for transparency over the on-going detention without due process of Atia Azohnwi, Amos Fofung, Thomas Awah Junior, Mfor Ndong, Hans Achumba, and Medjo Lewis. The journalists must be freed immediately and all charges dropped against them.

The Board of WAN-IFRA reminds Cameroon of its obligations as a signatory to international conventions regarding freedom of expression, and it unequivocally calls on Cameroon’s international partners to do more to pressure President Paul Biya’s government into guaranteeing an environment that better protects media freedom and the independence of journalists.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2017-06-01 23:25

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