We, international media freedom and human rights NGOs, media outlets and well-known figures, call for the immediate and unconditional release of Radio France Internationale's Hausa-language correspondent, Ahmed Abba, who has been imprisoned in Cameroon since July 30, 2015. A military court in Yaoundé is expected to issue a decision on his appeal on December 21st, the latest development in a judicial ordeal that has dragged on for more than two years.
On April 24th, Abba was sentenced to ten years in prison and a fine of 57 million CFA francs (85,000 euros) on charges of failing to report terrorist acts to the authorities and laundering the proceeds of a terrorist act. His only crime was to have covered the terrorist group Boko Haram's activities in Cameroon's Far North.
The victim of a loose interpretation of Cameroon's 2014 terrorism law, as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) noted in a special report published in September, that Abba is accused of complicity with Boko Haram, although no evidence was brought to support this claim during his trial and he has consistently denied it.
"I am a patriot and I love my country; I have never associated with terrorists in order to harm my country and I will never do that," said Abba at his most recent hearing on November 16.
Abba's trial has been marred with inconsistencies, has been postponed 18 times, and has served to highlight the ongoing efforts of Cameroonian authorities to use anti-terror legislation as a tool to muzzle critical voices. We join voices in condemning the ongoing miscarriage of justice against Abba.
We call on the Cameroonian authorities to release Ahmed Abba from government custody immediately and to drop all charges brought against him.
Journalists do the important work of safeguarding democracy. Like all journalists, Abba should be free to carry out his work without fear of reprisal.
Amnesty International (AI)
Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT)
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
International Federation of Journalists
Journaliste en Danger (JED)
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Syndicat national des journalistes camerounais (SNJC)
Didier Awadi, Senegalese musician
Kidi Bebey, Franco-Cameroonian writer
Hervé Bourges, former director of RFI and former president of France Télévisions
Denise Epote, TV5 Régional director for Africa
Tiken Jah Fakoly, Ivorian musician
Meddy Jumanne, aka « Doctor Meddy », Tanzanian caricaturist
Angélique Kidjo, Beninese singer, Grammy Awards winner and Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF
Ray Lema, Congolese musician
Mamane, Nigerien filmmaker and humorist
Rémy Ngono, Cameroonian journalist
Catherine Simon, French journalist and writer
Solo Soro, Ivorian journalist and producer of l’Afrique en Solo on France Inter
Salif Traoré, aka Asalfo, founder of the Ivorian group Magic System
Valsero, Cameroonian rapper
Abdourahman Waberi, Franco-Djiboutian writer
AFP Society of journalists
BFM Society of journalists
Les Echos Society of journalists
Le Figaro Society of journalists
France2 Society of journalists
France 24 Society of journalists
France3 Society of journalists
Libération Society of journalists
Le Monde Society of journalists
L’Obs Society of journalists
Le Point Society of journalists
Premières lignes Society of journalists
RFI Society of journalists
RTL Society of journalists
TV5 Monde Society of journalists
Julie Bance / [email protected] / +33 1 4483 8457