Media advocacy group seeking release of journalists in Cameroon
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Media advocacy group seeking release of journalists in Cameroon

Posted NDI Eugene NDI

on  Friday, July 7   2017 at  18:59

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to urge the Cameroonian government to release all journalists detained for their work in the country as the continental soccer body pushes for transparency “in opening a new era...for African football."

The Central African nation is preparing the stage to host the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

In a letter to the new CAF president Ahmad Ahmad, the New York-based advocacy group said the soccer jamboree will attract journalists and media coverage from around the world but visiting journalists “will not be able to report freely from Cameroon.”

Press freedom

The letter signed by CPJ Africa programme co-ordinator, Angela Quintal notes that the AFCON 2019 host’s press freedom record is a far cry from the vision of an "Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice, and the rule of law" the African Union, CAF and other partners support in their Agenda 2063.

It said international sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee are adopting human-rights assessments as part of the process by which countries bid to host events and are implementing press freedom monitoring mechanisms.

“We urge the CAF to consider a similar course. The CAF should not reward repressive governments for their repression,” CPJ said.

Silencing critics

It said further that Cameroon's treatment of the press has steadily deteriorated since December 2016, notably with the targeting of Anglophone media and the use of anti-terrorism legislation to silence critics or those who report news the government does not wish to see reported.

CPJ said it asked the Cameroon Minister of Communication Issa Tchiroma Bakary for information regarding the detention of some six journalists but “ he has not responded” as media outlets in the country and their staff continue to fear suspension or other reprisal for their work.

The president of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations Phillip Chiyangwa had earlier written to the new CAF administration to review the hosting rights of the tournament from Cameroon saying the award of the rights by the former administration was politically influenced.

Mr Chiyangwa led Ahmad Ahmad’s campaign to overthrow Issa Hayatou in the recent Confederation of African Football presidential election.