New Delhi, November 10: Condemning the arrest of the Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo who had been reporting on alleged military killings of civilians, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) today called for her immediate release and demanded that the Cameroons end "its use of terrorism laws to silence journalists".
CHRI's International Director Sanjoy Hazarika, pointing out that Cameroon was recently elected to the UN Human Rights Council, declared that it was bound "to adhere to obligations to respect the freedom of media, speech and expression under the international human rights instruments to which it is a party, and immediately release Mimi Mefo and ensure her safety in custody".
CHRI also called for the release of journalist Michel Biem Tong — known for his reporting on alleged military atrocities in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the north and Anglophone separatists in the west — who was detained by police last month and has not been released.
Mefo was the latest case of a Cameroonian journalist who has been detained without charges in the past months.
CHRI said that the country's vague anti-terror law (passed in December, 2014) leaves it open to abuse and provides arbitrary powers to authorities to arrest journalists reporting on sensitive issues. Criticized globally for being overly broad, the law carries a maximum death penalty and enables the indefinite detention of those accused of terrorism.
"CHRI wishes to point out that a statement by Cameroon's Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma that his ministry plans to further increase surveillance and tighten cyber-criminality law is a move that can potentially further endanger online journalists and bloggers in the country," the human rights organization declared.
For further details, contact Richa, Media and Communications Officer, CHRI, at firstname.lastname@example.org