Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cameroon: Tortured and imprisoned journalist speaks out

It is no secret that press freedom in Cameroon is limited and journalists who dare to investigate and criticize the 28-year-old government do so at great personal risk. Many have been arbitrarily arrested, beaten and imprisoned for expressing dissenting views. A lot has already been said and written about the plight of journalists in Cameroon. In May, a journalist was arrested after questioning the authorities in the northern city of Ngaoundere; in April 2010, a journalist died after the state failed to provide him with adequate medical care in a notorious prison in Cameroon's capital city. The journalist, Bibi Ngota, was arrested while investigating allegations of corruption. One year after the death of Bibi Ngota, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ) urged Cameroon to carry out reforms to guarantee greater freedom for journalists. The story of another Cameroonian journalist, Charles Artangana, once again puts press freedom in the central African country in the spot light.

On 21 June 2011, I read the story of Charles Artangana, a Cameroonian journalist living in exile. His story is a story of arbitrary arrest, torture and imprisonment. It is a disturbing story titled, In exile: From a Cameroonian jail to immigration limbo, written in his own words and published on the CPJ Blog.

The journalist was reportedly arrested, beaten and imprisoned for 40 days in a jail in Cameroon. He fled the country in 2004 and sought asylum in the United Kingdom.

He was granted asylum in April 2011 - after 7 daunting years in "immigration limbo."

Cameroon is party to key human rights instruments. As a matter of fact, the greatest human rights document of all - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) - is attached to the Constitution of the Republic. Despite this strong commitment on paper to uphold international human rights standards, the reality on the ground is disturbing.

The state should take concrete steps to ensure that all individuals within its borders enjoy all rights laid down in the Constitution and international human rights conventions. Stories of the arrest, torture and imprisonment of journalists damage the country's image abroad.

Read the story of Charles Artangana: In Exile: From a Cameroonian jail to immigration limbo.

*Photo: Journalists in Karachi, Pakistan protest against press censorship. [Source].

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