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Cameroon – Repression: Journalism, a risky profession

mic in a studio
Written by Deckson N.

Ahmed Abba sentenced to 10 years in prison. This decision confirms the difficulty of working as a journalist in Cameroon. The country ranks 126 out of 180 in the 2016  Reporters sans frontières press freedom rankings. Today, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least six other reporters are reportedly detained in the country after being arrested for the most part at the beginning of the year. And today in the field, working conditions are tricky especially in the West and North.

Most detained journalists come from the anglophone zone that has been in conflict with central government for more than six months. Leonard Kum is the representative of the National Union of Journalists of the South-West Region. He explains that local reporters no longer cover this crisis: “The authorities have ordered us not to talk about it. It is a fundamental abuse of our rights. People are waiting for real information. But then our work becomes useless. What else do you want us to talk about? But if official orders are not respected, journalists become targets. The government accuses us of being no longer reporters but activists. So we work at their convenience, we self-censor, not to expose ourselves. And everyone is afraid. “

For Leonard Kum, the anti-terrorist law of December 2014 is used to put pressure on the press. Guibai Gatama is of the same opinion. Director of the newspaper L’Oeil du Sahel, he covers another crisis, that of the far north, touched by Boko Haram. He himself targeted by a survey in 2014, he believes that work in this region has its limitations. “One of the things that can not be done,” he says, “is, for example, giving an active member of Boko Haram the floor, not being accused of defending terrorism. You have a sword of Damocles on your head. The State wants to control communication. From there, I know the risks, and as of nature I refuse the fear, I try to work in these conditions.

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Deckson N.

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