July 13, 2009
H.E. Paul Biya President of the Republic of Cameroon
c/o The Embassy of the Republic of Cameroon to the United States
2349 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Dear President Biya,
Jean Bosco Talla, editor of the private weekly Germinal in the capital, Yaoundé, has reported receiving anonymous threats since June 27, including a July 2 text message with chilling references to the slain Burkinabé editor Norbert Zongo and the missing French-Canadian reporter Guy-André Kieffer. The threats cited the paper's decision to republish, on June 24, a report by the Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development, which raised questions about your private wealth, according to local journalists. The report included numerous footnote references to an August 2008 investigative report in Germinal that detailed your assets.
On June 3, a Yaoundé military court sentenced two journalists to five years in prison and fined them 500,000 CFA francs (US$1,000). The verdict stemmed from a complaint filed by former Defense Minister Rémy Zé Meka over articles that were critical of his performance in office. We are particularly alarmed by reports that the defendants, Editor Jacques Blaise Mvié and Editor-in-Chief Charles René Nwé of private weekly La Nouvelle, were not notified of the charges and, thus, were not present at their own trial. CPJ obtained a copy of the verdict--issued by a panel of judges headed by Col. Jean Legrand Mvondo Akoutou--that convicted the journalists by default of "complicity of insult" and "breaching national defense secrecy." The journalists are free pending appeal, according to defense lawyer Paulain Marie Ndong.Two other newspaper editors have been jailed since September 2008 on criminal libel charges. One is reported to be ill. A doctor at
Thank for your attention to these very important matters.