President of Cameroon since 6 November 1982
Predator since taking office
Cameroon, 135th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Widespread repression
Independent and critical media are threatened and subjected to regular reprisals. From arrests and threats directed against the pioneers of an independent press in the 1980s to lengthy detentions and prosecutions in more recent years, journalists have been kept under tight control. Those who work in the media have lived under pressure for four decades. Those who show signs of independence by refusing to join the ranks of government mouthpieces have suffered repercussions such as threats, close surveillance of their movements and communications, summonses, arrests, lengthy detentions. The legal framework, among the harshest in sub-Saharan Africa, is used as part of the system of predation. Where the law offers protective provisions, such as a maximum period for detention without trial, it is routinely bypassed. The 2014 antiterrorism law is often used arbitrarily to detain journalists, who are regularly accused of lack of patriotism if they criticize the authorities. In 2017, a government spokesman gave this narrow definition of freedom of the press, which only exists if it is deemed not to threaten the interests or survival of the government: “Journalists can say what they like, provided it is consistent with the defence of our institutions, the state and our government, which today is at war.”
FAVOURITE TARGETS: Journalists who do not follow the government line
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Silence
Paul Biya keeps the media at arm’s length. including national outlets, and rarely gives interviews.