Holding Cameroonian officials and security services accountable

Monday, April 25, 2011

His Excellency Solomon Azoh-Mbi Anu’a-Gheyle, High Commissioner to Canada
High Commission for the Republic of Cameroon
170 Clemow Avenue
Ottawa, ON K1S 2B4

April 25, 2011

Dear High Commissioner,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

On the one year anniversary of journalist Germain “Bibi” Ngota Ngota’s death, CJFE urges the Cameroonian government to strengthen its protection of journalists, and ensure that officials and security services are held accountable for violations against journalists. Ngota, along with two other journalists, was arrested on February 26, 2010, on charges of forging the signature of a member of government. Ngota died while in police custody on April 22, 2010.

The three journalists were investigating corruption involving the state-run oil company National Hydrocarbons Company, when they acquired a document with the signature of the Secretary General of the President’s Office, Laurent Esso. The arrests followed a criminal complaint from Esso, who claimed his signature was forged in an attempt to discredit him.

While imprisoned, Ngota suffered from a lack of medical attention. His health deteriorated rapidly, and repeated requests from family and friends for medical attention were ignored, including a written plea for his medical evacuation which had been endorsed by the prison doctor. During his time in custody, Ngota was twice admitted to the prison infirmary - first on April 5, and again on April 15 - when he remained in the infirmary until his death. CJFE believes that Ngota died due to the appalling conditions in the prison and a lack of medical attention, and holds the Cameroonian government responsible.

CJFE calls on the Cameroonian government to recognize the right to freedom of expression, and to honour that right by taking all steps necessary to hold officials and security services accountable for their abuses of power. CJFE urges Cameroonian authorities to ensure that no journalist is subjected to detention, harassment or physical abuse for conducting their work.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours Sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President