Cameroon: Radio journalists harassed over human rights coverage

New York, March 10, 2000 — On February 23, authorities in Cameroon interrogated three journalists from the provincial station Radio Buea about a broadcast that criticized the government’s treatment of English-speaking Cameroonians, according to sources in Buea, a small rural town in Anglophone southwestern Cameroon.

The program, titled “Refugees in France and Britain,” featured interviews with separatist Cameroonians living in Europe who accused President Paul Biya’s government of marginalizing English-speakers and violating their constitutional rights.

Shortly after the program aired, police raided Radio Buea’s offices. They arrested station manager Chris Oben, producer Jean-Mathias Kouemeko, and technician Theresia Forbin. The three journalists were interrogated for several hours at a local police station, and then released pending further investigations.

Radio Buea is one of ten accredited provincial broadcasters in Cameroon. On December 30, 1999, police detained several Radio Buea staff members for questioning after members of the outlawed Southern Cameroon National Council (SCNC) occupied the station’s studio and broadcast an appeal calling on English-speaking Cameroonians to support the secessionist cause.