Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Cameroonian authorities to drop all proceedings against François Fogno Fotso, a reporter and publisher of the newspaper Génération Libre, who is to be tried tomorrow in Yaoundé on charges of disobeying the police and “rebellion.”
RSF learned on 15 September that Fotso was being held at judicial police headquarters in Yaoundé after being arrested while trying to take photos at an NGO-organized workshop on democracy that was deemed to be illegal and was cut short by the police. Fotso said he took out his camera to take photos of the scuffles between the police and the workshop’s organizers and participants, but did not take part himself. “It was at this point that the mass of policemen turned on me, confiscated my camera and took me by force to the police station,” he told RSF. “We call on the authorities to drop the charges against the journalist François Fogno Fotso,” said Reporters Without Borders editor in chief Virginie Dangles. “The Cameroonian authorities must stop trying to intimidate media personnel.” The National Council for Communication (CNC), which regulates in media in Cameroon, is the only entity with authority to punish journalists who violate the country’s media legislation. RSF has nonetheless noted several cases of journalists being treated abusively by the security forces since the start of 2015. Such behaviour constitutes a grave violation of media freedom in Cameroon, which is ranked 133rd out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.