The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations:
To the Cameroonian government
- Release all jailed journalists and foster an environment conducive to press freedom by revising the country’s 2014 anti-terrorism laws to ensure it cannot be used to jail journalists; decriminalizing defamation; and ensuring that security forces respect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
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- Ensure Cameroon’s anti-terrorism law is in line with international human rights standards and end the use of military courts and the death penalty during the trials of civilians.
- Abolish detention without trial and ensure that arrests and detentions comply with international human rights law.
- Launch an independent investigation into allegations that the intelligence service tortured RFI journalist Ahmed Abba in custody. Investigate claims that journalists detained in the headquarters of the National Gendarmerie in Yaoundé faced ill-treatment and inhumane conditions.
- Order the government and National Communication Council to cease threatening the economic viability of critical outlets.
- Abolish the National Communication Council and establish a new independent broadcast regulator with narrowly defined powers, along the lines of the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S.
- Allow the media to establish independent self-regulatory bodies without interference from government.
- Ensure that independent and self-regulatory associations, such as the Consortium of Journalism Associations, are able to operate freely and without interference.
- Provide visas to international rights groups, including CPJ, and journalists so that they can investigate and report on conditions in Cameroon.
To International Organizations
- The U.N. and African Union’s special rapporteurs on freedom of expression should independently investigate press freedom conditions in Cameroon in advance of the country’s Universal Periodic Review.
- The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights should investigate the arbitrary arrests and prolonged detention of journalists in Cameroon.
- The Confederation of African Football should insist that the Cameroonian government releases all jailed journalists and ensures the free movement of the press ahead of it hosting the 2019 African Cup of Nations
To the International Community
- Strongly and unequivocally condemn the ongoing detention of journalists in Cameroon and refute Cameroon’s attempts to equate journalism with terrorism.
- Members of the Multinational Joint Task Force must ensure that Cameroon abides by international human rights standards and that any financial and other assistance provided through the mechanism is in line with obligations to ensure respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as per U.N. Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).
- Ensure that recommendations related to improving press freedom feature prominently in Cameroon’s Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights, when it comes up for its third examination in 2018 at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
To the European Union and E.U. Member States
- Publicly condemn, in line with the E.U. Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline, restrictions against journalists in Cameroon, including raising the cases of detained journalists with Cameroonian authorities and calling for their release.
- Support the Delegation of the European Union to Cameroon, and other diplomatic missions to key E.U. Member States, to actively respond to restrictions against journalists, including ensuring comprehensive trial observation, visiting journalists in detention, and maintaining active contact with marginalized or at-risk journalists, as well as their families and colleagues.
- Call for an overhaul of Cameroon’s anti-terrorism law and its National Communication Council, and offer support in helping the country make those changes.