News / Africa

Pattern of Press Freedom Abuses in Cameroon

FILE - Journalists chant anti-government slogans and sing songs as they celebrate World Press Freedom Day.
FILE - Journalists chant anti-government slogans and sing songs as they celebrate World Press Freedom Day.
Saturday is World Press Freedom Day. Commemorative activities are already going on in Cameroon, with journalists complaining that the press is manipulated by the more than three decade rule of President Paul Biya.

Cameroon has more than 500 newspapers and 100 radio and television stations. Journalists said most of the media outfits were created by the government to give an impression there is press freedom in the country led by President Paul Biya, the world's sixth longest serving leader.

VOA asked the President of the Cameroon Union of Journalists, Charlie Ndi Chia, if the proliferation of media outlets means there is freedom of the press in Cameroon.

"The answer is definitely no, we are just deceiving the world into thinking that there is press freedom in Cameroon. Its a mere boogie [deception]," he said. "The government created its own Frankenstein monster and which is allowing everyone else to be a journalist, to have a media. Look at what is happening around, just any body, just any body. I am a journalist, I am a journalist.''

Journalist John Mbah Akuru said some of the media organs are at times told by the government what to report.

"There are a lot of media houses where sometimes articles are dictated by news sources. They just call you, they dictate an article and you know these articles are carried and published and you call yourself a journalist," he said. "When you a journalist, a publisher, and you find yourself being dictated a story, you should be ashamed of calling yourself a journalist."

Kini Nsom, another journalist who reports for the Post newspaper, said those journalists who struggle to be independent are never given access to information.

"You cannot move to [approach] the presidency and verify information. There are certain institutions that are like no go areas for journalists. We cannot be talking about press freedom in a country where the president of the republic has never at any one moment granted a press conference to the national press, the prime minister the same. We cannot be pretending," said Kini Nsom.

Another issue raised by the media is that a majority of the journalists working in Cameroon never had formal training. There is poor pay, intimidation and regular arrests and detention of journalists.

President Paul Biya created Cameroon's National Communications Council to regulate the practice of journalism.

Ngala Killian Chimtom, a journalist with Cameroon's state broadcaster, told VOA the Council works as dictated by President Paul Biya.

"When the president of the Republic takes up his pen, and then he appoints a number of people to regulate the press, these people will be at the beck and call of the executive because the president is the chief of the executive," he said.

When VOA met Cameroon's Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma for comment on accusations that the government was gagging the media, he said the government has never asked any journalist not to respect professional ethics. "Each journalist has to exercise the profession without being a prey that politicians or other people use as a tool," he said.

Last year, shortly before the September Council and parliamentary elections, the government of Cameroon shut down 11 newspapers and private radio and TV stations and opened them shortly after the voting was over.

Some journalists were also banned from practicing in what the Communication Council said was "the disrespect of professional norms."

The international non-governmental organization, Freedom House, reported in 2013 that restrictions on freedom of expression are not new to Cameroon.

Many media outlets in Cameroon are biased in favor of the ruling People's Democratic Movement (CPDM) party, headed by President Paul Biya since 1982.  Opposition reporting is repeatedly stifled by requiring a cumbersome licensing process, forcing journalists to reveal their sources, detaining and harassing journalists, and limiting access to government information.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs