Reporters Without Borders, RSF, says government’s relentless gaging of the press in Cameroon is worrying.
In its 2017 press freedom index, RSF, ranked Cameroon 130th out of the 180 countries in the world.
RSF, a group which campaigns for free speech said even though audio-visual media and press are flourishing in Cameroon, many radio stations present throughout the territory are still to get final approval. “Journalists in Cameroon are prosecuted for defamation and “condemned to pay exorbitant fines or prison sentences without standing a chance to defend themselves in court”.
Among the concerns raised by RSF was Cameroon’s new anti-terrorism act which provides for defendants to be brought before military courts, like the correspondent for Radio France Internationale (RFI) in the Hausa language Ahmed Abba, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined 55 Million F CFA by the military court in Yaoundé, for “failure to denounce terrorist acts and laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts”.
The international organization for the defence of journalists also noted that other media professionals were arrested, during the repression of demonstrations in the English-speaking regions in the country’s north-west and south-west, where the Internet connection was cut off in January 2017 before being reinstated recently.
Reacting to the news, Cameroon government authorities debunked the ranking calling it bias. Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Communication Minister recently said over state media that Cameroon is top on Africa press freedom index and also suggested that the country could be number one in the world. Minister Tchiroma also claimed that there is no journalist in prison in Cameroon, arrested for “regular” practice of his profession, a statement which rebuffed many Cameroonian journalists as they commemorate world press freedom day on May 3.
The RSF ranking placed countries of Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Denmark are ranked in the top four spots, while Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea are in the last four places.