The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today denounced the convocation on Monday in Douala, of Mrs. Henriette Ekwe, Director of the Weekly newspaper, Bebela by officers of the Secret Information Service, the military security and the Head office of External Research (DGRE), over her appearance on a programme broadcast on Equinox TV on April 6th.
“This convocation worries us because it occurs after those of other journalists who were later hauled before the courts accused of having exercised their right to freedom of expression,” declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office.
On Monday April 12, Henriette Ekwe, founding member and adviser to the Executive board of the National Union of Cameroonian Journalists (SNJC), Vice President of the Association of Cameroonian Journalists (UJC) and IFJ Gender Coordinator for Central Africa was asked on telephone by a member of the Secret information Service of the Littoral region to attend a “simple informal meeting”.
Giving heed to caution, before responding to the convocation, she informed Alex Gustave Azebaze, the First Secretary by interim of the SNJC and Florine Nseumi, journalist of the newspaper La Nouvelle Expression who accompanied her. These two persons were refused access to the Delegation of the National Security where Ekwe was informed that her convocation was related to her remarks made during the broadcast on Equinox TV, which were perceived as “an incitement to rebel”.
The SNJC, through Alex Gustave Azébazé expressed “its surprise that police and military authorities are authorized to convene journalists. We call on the government to guarantee the safety of journalists to express themselves freely, including freedom of opinion on public affairs and events”.
The IFJ recalls that since January 12, 2010, four journalists have been charged in relation to their comments concerning corruption made during television programmes. Moreover, last February, two journalists were arrested and held for several days in the offices of the CENER, former political police amid suspicions of torture. The two disappeared shortly after their release and their colleagues do not have any information about them.
IFJ calls on the Cameroonian authorities to stop with immediate effect and without any condition the campaign of intimidation against journalists and to let the media work freely and in full independence so as to make press freedom and freedom of expression a reality in the country.
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