The Committee to Protect Journalists has called on Cameroonian authorities to release web journalist Paul Chouta and drop criminal defamation and false news charges against him.
Paul Chouta has been detained since May 28 in Yaounde in relation to a defamation complaint filed by French Cameroonian writer Calixthe Beyala.
Paul Chouta has been placed on pre-trial detention at the Kondengui maximum security prison and is set to appear in court on July 9.
“Instead of holding Paul Chouta in a maximum security prison, authorities should release him and encourage Calixthe Beyala to seek redress through civil remedies, not criminal action,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal in New York. “Criminal defamation and false news laws have no place in a fair and just country, and Cameroon should change such laws.”
Cameroon is the third worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Egypt and Eritrea, with at least seven journalists behind bars for their work on December 1, 2018, according to CPJ’s annual prison census. It is the second-worst jailer of journalists on false news charges in the world, after Egypt, according to the census.