Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Committee to Protect Journalists urges Cameroon to carry out reform

One year after the death of Germain Ngota Ngota (fondly known as Bibi Ngota), a Cameroonian journalist who died in prison in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital city, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged the 28-year old government of Cameroon to carry out reforms so that no other journalist would be imprisoned for doing his/her job.

In an open letter to Paul Biya, President of Republic of Cameroon, CPJ recalled the death of Germain Ngota Ngota one year ago in the notorious Kondengui prison and blamed the regime for the death of the journalist. CPJ urged the government to carry out reforms and ensure that press offenses such as defamation and libel are tried in civil, not criminal courts. The organization also took state officials and security agents to task for arbitrarily arresting journalists who criticize them.

CPJ reminded the Head of State that Cameroon is party to the International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and that the state has failed to respect its obligations under the covenant.

Germain Ngota Ngota, now the face of press censorship in Cameroon, was arrested in February 2010 while investigating allegations of corruption and died in prison on 22 April 2010 while awaiting trial. Ngota suffered from high blood pressure and the authorities reportedly failed to provide him with adequate medical attention.

The plight of journalists in Cameroon and the dwindling right to free expression is there for everyone to see. There is an urgent need for reform so that journalists and those who speak out against corruption and other social ills are not arrested and imprisoned.

Earlier this month, a journalist was arrested in the north of Cameroon after questioning the authorities.

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