RSF addresses open letter to Cameroonian President Paul Biya
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has written to Cameroon’s president asking him to use his prerogatives to obtain the release of Amadou Vamoulké, a journalist who has been held arbitrarily for more than two and a half years.
Dear President Biya,
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) asks you to intercede to obtain the release of Amadou Vamoulké, the former director-general of Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV). This journalist, who ran your country’s big public radio and TV broadcaster for 11 years, has been in preventive detention for more than two and a half years for offences he did not commit.
Arrested on 29 July 2016 after responding voluntarily to a summons, he was charged with misappropriating funds, not for personal ends but supposedly with the sole aim of benefitting CRTV. His trial before a Special Criminal Court (TCS) began a year later and has been adjourned 17 times, Most of these hearings have lasted just a few minutes. In the course of these 32 months of proceedings, the prosecution has not produced the least evidence of any managerial wrongdoing by Mr. Vamoulké, which suggests that he could be paying the price for his independence. The nine-month deadline for trying defendants, established in the law creating the TCS, was exceeded nearly a year ago. There are no longer any grounds for continuing to hold him.
The information and the statements obtained by RSF attest to Mr. Vamoulké’s deep commitment to ethical practices and support for independent quality journalism. Under his leadership, procedures were put in place to improve recruitment transparency and to avoid awarding contracts of a nepotistic nature. Journalists who have worked closely with him praise his professionalism and the editorial boldness of his determination to turn CRTV into a real public service media and get it to tackle sensitive subjects that it was not used to covering.
Aged 69, Mr. Vamoulké does not deserve to be in Kondengui central prison. First of his year at the Yaoundé School of Journalism, the first president of the Union of Cameroonian Journalists, he is a staunch advocate of ending the state’s monopoly of TV news and decriminalizing press offences in Cameroon. Because of his commitment, vision and professionalism, he is regarded as a leading journalistic figure both in Cameroon and abroad, and he enjoys the support of the many foreign journalists who have come to know him over the years.
Mr. Vamoulké has no place being in prison. You were right to appoint him to run CRTV in 2005 and you would be right again to use your prerogatives to bring an end to his detention now.
We trust that you will give this letter the necessary attention and that you will find a way to grant our request.