Journalism now a dangerous profession
Press freedom continues its long decline in Cameroon, now one of Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists. The government often points to the existence of many media outlets but this doesn’t mean they enjoy a favourable environment. Reporters are often detained arbitrarily and prosecuted, including by military tribunals or special courts. The 2014 terrorism law was used to keep a Radio France Internationale correspondent in detention for two and a half years. But it is the preventive detention of the former head of the public radio and TV broadcaster since 2016 that testifies most to the level of the retaliation to which journalists can be subjected if they act independently and resist government interference in their work. Aside from Eritrea, no other African country has held a journalist without trial for so long. The UN recognises the arbitrary nature of his detention and has requested his release, in vain. The Internet is meanwhile often disconnected in the English-speaking parts of the country and the authorities target the journalists there in particular, often accusing them of abetting the secessionist movements in these regions that the central government in Yaoundé has been trying to crush for years. One of these journalists was held incommunicado after being arrested in 2019 and died in very suspicious circumstances a few days later. More than ten months went by before the government finally recognised that he had died in detention. The tendency for the constant harassment of media personnel to intensify during elections was seen again during President Paul Biya’s reelection for a seventh term in October 2018, when journalists were once more threatened, attacks and arrested.
134 in 2020
43.28 in 2020