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Freedom of the press: Would journalism be a dangerous profession in Cameroon ?

Media denounced Ahmed Abba's conviction.


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Incomprehension persists on the firm condemnation of 10 years of prison and a penalty of 56 million FCFA to the journalist Ahmed Abba by the military court of Yaounde.

It is a new breach in the freedom of the cameroonian press!“. Several media officials voiced support during the International Press Day celebrated this year in a climate of widespread desolation within the corporation for the sentence to 10 years of prison by the military tribunal of Ahmed Abba, correspondent of Radio France International (Rfi) in the Hausa language. His fellow journalists as well as the populations continue to question the truth behind the acts alleged against this colleage in this case that opposes the cameroonian government.

The trial conducted by the military court was all like an execution according to the opinion of an editorialist. The reaction of the inhabitants of the northern regions and of Maroua In particular, where he resided before his arrest, is mixed in the face of the weak knowledge of the file against him. “Justice has decided. If Ahmed Abba conspired with the terrorists then he deserved his trouble. But if he is innocent it is an ill to the image of the country “declares Mohamadou, a university student. In Maroua, his relatives received the verdict of the trial with bitterness. The long period of his custody in Yaounde foreshadowed a probable release. Even if this shocks many, a lot do not want to speak of the issue.

In the case of Ahmed Abba, there is much talk about the government’s power abuse. Very little information was revealed about the reasons and proofs of his condemnation despite the international pressure of Rfi. Since the beginning of the war against the Islamic sect Boko Haram and the kamikaze attacks, the witch hunt has been set up. The mass arrests of the alleged accomplices of the jihadists under mere suspicion or declaration have been repeatedly denounced. Talking about BH is now a taboo subject. “The military court found him guilty of not denouncing and laundering the proceeds of a terrorist act. The judiciary that is in a better position to deal with this issue has spoken. There are no comments to make as some information are classified defense secret” says a security source from the northern region questioned about it.

Journalists, for their part, criticize this violation of human rights and freedoms of the press. The events of the World Press Freedom Day served as a pretext to once again highlight the grievances suffered by cameroonian journalists in the performance of their duties. Gathered around the unions, media men have reassessed the risks of their craft which, depending on the context, is a dangerous trade. The condemnation of brother Ahmed Abba, in circumstances far from being elucidated in addition to shocking more than one, sounds the alarm bell on journalism in Cameroon in times of crisis.

Several voices stand up against the harsh working conditions and restrictions imposed on the media and journalists on a daily basis. “I am amazed and disappointed by the verdict given by the Yaounde military court against our colleague Ahmed Abba. It is a disguised way of ballooning the press in our country. The condemnation of Ahmed must remind cameroonian journalists that the government wants to kill the press and freedom of expression in our country. No ! Ahmad Abba is not a terrorist, “responded Lamissia Adolarc, SNJC regional president for Adamawa. Like him, others believe that Ahmed Abba is a journalist. To sentence somebody of terrorist journalist is a serious accusation that deserves attention according to several media professionals practicing in the northern region, the main area of ??conflict with the Boko Haram sect.

Rodrigue Tapeo
Journalist, Communicator, Cultural Promoter and Coordinator of the FAD'ART Group. He has worked with several media (radio, print, television, online newspaper) in the north of Cameroon. He is also a member of the Cameroonian Civil Society, Consultant in social communication and project development.


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