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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Freedom Of Expression In Cameroon; Why Does Government Hate The Truth

Aminateh Nkemngu
The latest report of some international  NGOs laid bare the reality of the freedom of expression in Cameroon. As to no surprise to anyone, Mr. Issa Tchiroma, the c
Communication Minister went out with the energy of a hungry lion in defence of the 30 years reign of Paul Biya.
In fact, the report was not published by some organisations or journalists paid for by the taxpayer money to polish the image of our country at home and abroad. These reports did not paint or cover up the failure of the government to help or just let journalists have uncontrolled access to the source of information. It is  clear that in Cameroon, the problem lies in the lack of proper legislation that guarantee the protection of journalists and writers during their investigation works or after they published their findings.  Investigation work poses a real challenge which sometimes is life risking. Bullying, harassments, anonymous calls, death threats and even callous murders are the constant battle that face Cameroonian journalists, writers, Television producers, film makers or just singers, to name the few.
As the Minister puts it himself, 400 newspapers may exist nationwide and publish regularly, more than a dozen television channels may clash their waves in the air for 24 hours a day, but the reality is that very few will have access to the source of controversial or sensitive topics concerning government members and other local authorities. Very few will know anything about the management of timber, public companies, petrol and other mineral business.
Journalists or writers who dare should make sure that they have a safe route to  exile,  face sitting for a long time in one of the filthy prison or just get murdered in a strange way. In this regard, there have been many cases of government cracking down on stubborn journalists. Jacques Bessala, Jules Koum koum were murdered either in a traffic accidents or callous murders after they spoke out against serving members of government. 57 years old cripple Enoh Meyo messe, is still sitting in a government prison accused of taking part in an armed robbery. Bertrand Teyou, the author who wrote about President Biya’s wife, was force to the exile. This is the same with Jean Robert Mbane, the author of the controversial book “Cameroun, 50 Ans d’Independence, 20 Millions De Corrompus” could not bear the harassment and   of the secret police. Up to last February this year, he was campaigning for the rights of the victims of 2008 riot and the recognition of the responsibility of the government in this event. 
In his maiden speech, Paul Biya promised that no Cameroonian should be forced into exile for his opinion; but in 30 years of his reign, the reality is something else. This same speech was long before the trial of Njawe-Monga for what they said about president Biya handling of petrol money. This was long before the crack down hundred of journalists and writers who are now forced to go to jail or live in exile for the fear of their lives.  Systematic destruction and damaging of journalist equipments are common in Cameroon. In the 30 years of reign, there have been thousand of speeches and there are actions which speak for themselves. Being a journalist, writer, Tv producer, film maker in Cameroon today is a life risking job unless you abide by the unwritten law of the government and its allies. According to his own statement, Pius Njawe,one of the most stubborn journalist in Cameroon was arrested 126 times between 1990 and 2010.
Paul Biya and his government have a lot to hide and it is not in their interest to have a free press and not silencing any trouble makers at any cost. Therefore, all the information should be tailor made, sweet to the taste of the government and its allies as it is not in the interest of a common Cameroonian to live the nightmare of war and civil unrest of many African countries. Celebrating 30 years as Head of State is nothing more than nasty and foolish entertainment in the modern world.
Paul Biya and his government have a lot to hide and it is not in their interest to have a free press and not silencing any trouble makers at any cost. Therefore, all the information should be tailor made, sweet to the taste of the government and its allies as it is not in the interest of a common Cameroonian to live the nightmare of war and civil unrest of many African countries. Celebrating 30 years as head of state is nothing more than nasty and foolish.







When News Breaks Out, We Break In. Minute by Minute Report on Cameroon and Africa

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