Cameroon: Newspaper The Post banned
The Post newspaper banned until further notice
On 12th September 2023, Bernard Okalia Bilai, the Governor of South West Region, via an order, banned the newspaper The Post until further notice for its “flagrant violation of professional norms”. The ban followed the publication of a copy of the front page of the Monday edition of the paper on social media, with the headline “66 percent of Cameroonians want a military coup”. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the article was based on an article in the weekly pan-African The Continent, and based on survey data from the African research network Afrobarometer. The Post’s senior editors withdrew the article before it was printed, and a new version of the edition, without the article, was published, printed and distributed. In a statement on Facebook, The Post said that the edition as it appeared on social media had not yet been approved when it became public.
Besides the ban on the newspaper in South West Region, the following retaliatory actions against The Post and its staff members took place:
- On 14th September 2023, the National Communication Council (NCC) suspended The Post and its publisher, Yerima Kini Nsom, for a period of one month for the publication of the headline on social media, which, according to CPJ who reviewed the NCC decision, is “bearing information likely to disrupt national cohesion and social peace”. The announcement came after representatives of the newspaper appeared before an NCC inquiry.
- According to CPJ, who spoke with two people with knowledge, a committee on government funding of private media, which resides under the Ministry of Communication, barred The Post from receiving an annual grant.
- Two representatives of the newspaper were reportedly questioned by the Governor’s head of security about the source of their information.
Furthermore, the national partner of Afrobarometer was additionally questioned by local and media authorities. Afrobarometer’s head of analysis, Carolyn Logan, however, told CPJ that the headline did not reflect the organisation’s findings.
Cameroon’s media regulator, the Conseil National de la Communication (CNC), has demanded that “Canal+ Elles”, the thematic channel owned by Canal+, be suspended because it aired programming that the regulator claimed encourages homosexuality.— Broadcast Media Africa | Intelliengence & Networks (@BcastinAfrica) September 26, 2023
Read More: https://t.co/wLGSecyeBZ pic.twitter.com/myRB3S1Sbb
Media regulator suspends Canal + Elles channel on accusations of broadcasting “obscene practices and homosexual tendencies”
On 22nd September 2023, Cameroon’s national media regulator, the National Communication Council (NCC) suspended the television channel Canal + Elles, a subsidiary channel of Canal + International, on accusations of broadcasting programmes that “convey obscene practices and homosexual tendencies”. The NCC recalled that it had already sent a warning to Canal + International on 12th June 2023 and “appropriate” measures agreed with the NCC following the warning were reportedly not implemented.
On 12th October 2023, NCC lifted the suspension on Canal + Elle after it formally committed to implement measures to avoid broadcasting “obscene practices and homosexual tendencies”.
#Cameroon authorities should immediately lift an indefinite ban against The Post newspaper in the Southwest Region and stop any retaliatory action against the privately owned media outlet and its staff - @pressfreedom https://t.co/GaZr1QI0or— CPJ Africa (@CPJAfrica) September 15, 2023
According to information received by the Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa (REDHAC), the head of office of the tri-weekly L’œil du Sahel, Bertrand Ayissi Ndzomo, was summoned to appear before the Office of the Governor of the Adamawa Region, Kiladi Taguiéké Boukar, on 12th September 2023. He is reportedly accused of ‘spreading false news’ in relation to an investigative report Ndzomo published on human organ trafficking in the region. According to REDHAC, the journalist was also subjected to threats.
Minister of Territorial Administration urges governors to monitor activities of NGOs and media, warn media practitioners
During the bi-annual conference of Regional Governors on 17th July 2023 in Yaoundé, Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atanga Nji urged the Governors to closely monitor the activities of media, NGOs and political parties. He further said that “administrative authorities will have to monitor some private media organs who organise a one-sided debate, intended to discredit government action, divide Cameroonians and break down social cohesion, promoting tribalism and hate speech”. He continued by warning media practitioners to “think twice before publishing or making public pronouncements”.
Le Ministre des Affaires étrangères du Cameroun (Lejeune Mbella Mbella) s'oppose à ce que l'ambassadeur LGBT+ de la France vienne car "il n'est pas possible de parler des LGBT+ au Cameroun". pic.twitter.com/n0AXVsH7GP— Le coin des LGBT+ (@lecoindeslgbt) June 20, 2023
Association & Peaceful Assembly
French ambassador on LGBTQI+ rights ‘persona non grata’; conference on gender and sexual orientation prohibited
A visit by French ambassador for LGBTQI+ rights, Jean-Marc Berthon, foreseen for 27th June to 1st July 2023, to preside over a conference on definitions of gender and sexual orientation, among other activities, organised by the French Institute in Yaoundé was cancelled following strong objections from authorities in Cameroon. In a letter addressed to the French Embassy, Minister of Foreign Relations Lejeune Mbella Mbella said that “the government's position on the question of defining gender, orientation and sexual identity is clear and devoid of any debate in Cameroon. It is not possible to talk about LGBT people in Cameroon” since same-sex relations are criminalised in the country. Furthermore, Mbella Mbella expressed her opposition to the organisation of the conference in a letter to Minister of Territorial Administration, Atanga Nji.
Following the announcement of the visit by Berthon, online messages of hatred and calls for mob justice and violence against LGBTQI+ people have surfaced on social media networks in Cameroon, including by some government officials and other public figures.
Protest against killing of civilians
On 20th July 2023, hundreds of people gathered in Bamenda, North West Region, to call for an end to violence in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The protest was organised in response to the killing of ten people by unidentified perpatrators on the night of 16th to 17th July 2023, who opened fire in the Nacho neighbourhood in Bamenda, the capital of the North West Region.