Cameroonian journalist Amadou Vamoulké, the former managing director of the state-owned Cameroon Radio and Television (CRTV) broadcaster, was arrested in 2016 for alleged embezzlement. As of late 2019, he had been in court over 20 times but the prosecution had yet to present any compelling evidence against him. Individuals close to Vamoulké assert that it was his independent mindedness when heading CRTV that caused his arrest and detention.
Vamoulké was arrested on July 29, 2016, according to media reports and one of the journalist’s lawyers, Alice Nkom. Vamoulké, who headed CRTV from 2005 until 2016, was removed from his post shortly before his arrest, according to media reports.
Vamoulké has been detained in Kondengui Central Prison in Yaoundé since his arrest, and no evidence has been presented against him despite at least 20 scheduled hearings at the Special Criminal Court, Nkom told CPJ. Each time Vamoulké has appeared in court, the prosecution has requested postponement in order to bring evidence, and each time the judge has agreed, according to Nkom.
Nkom said Vamoulké’s arrest was in reprisal for his management of CRTV. "The official reason for his arrest is a pretext for trying to silence journalists in Cameroon … Amadou never accepted as black what he knew was white," Nkom said.
An individual familiar with Vamoulké’s journalistic career who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal told CPJ that Vamoulké had strong ethical and journalistic standards. He was reputed for "high levels of professionalism … in spite of directives from the government and state apparatus … in some cases he contravened the directives," the individual said. Without this adherence to journalistic values and concern for "general interests and general good" over "power to influence," Vamoulké would not be in detention, the same individual said.
In October 2017, the International Union of Francophone Press in a Facebook post attested to Vamoulké’s integrity and called his ongoing detention "a relentless attempt to demonstrate guilt despite the absence of facts justifying such an accusation."
Nkom told CPJ in late September 2019 that Vamoulké has been diagnosed with asthma, glaucoma, and neuropathy, a nerve disorder, while in prison, and said that he has applied for evacuation to a medical facility outside Cameroon.
“I am not bedridden, but the evolution of the disease can lead to paralysis of the lower limbs where there is already insensibility of the sole of my left foot,” Vamoulké told CPJ in a message sent through Nkom.
Communication Minister Rene Sadi, who is a government spokesperson, did not respond to a text message in late 2019 seeking comment. His adviser Charles Manda also did not respond to calls, emails, or texts via messaging app.