The Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ says it is investigating the arrest of at least three journalists arrested in Cameroon on Tuesday while covering anti-Biya protests in Yaounde and Douala.
CPJ Africa said it was “investigating reports of at least 3 journalists arrested in Douala while covering opposition protests, incl. Tah Mai Jarvis, Tebong Christian & Lindovi Ndijo. Authorities must allow the press to report. The protests are newsworthy & citizens have a right to know.”
Tah Mai Javis and Tebong Christian, reporter and camera man working for Douala based television, My Media Prime, were picked up by police in Douala as they covered the protests.
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The Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists CAMASEJ condemned the arrest of Javis, saying they were arrested despite identifying themselves.
“We demand the immediate release of journalist @TahJarvis who was arrested in Douala #Cameroon, this morning while covering an opposition protest. Despite putting on his press jacket and presenting his press card, he was still taken away.” the journalism body said.
In Yaounde, Lindovi Njio who works for Cameroon French daily, “La Nouvelle Expression”, was arrested in Yaounde this morning on his way to interview protest leader Maurice Kamto. At presstime he was being prepared for questioning at the Judicial police station.
Equinoxe TV Camera man, Rodrigue Ndassi was also picked up at the Etoudi market, allegedly striped off his dresses and conducted to the “Commisariat Central No 1” in Yaounde.
Denis Nkwebo President of the Cameroon Journalist Trade Union told TODAY NEWS AFRICA that the measures are being taken to secure their release.
Several other persons have been arrested in Douala, Yaounde and Bafoussam as anti Biya protesters pushed through with the protest demanding 86 year old President Paul Biya to step down responding to the call of main opposition leader Maurice Kamto. Heavily armed Police and Gendarmerie officers used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the protesters in some neighborhoods of these cities.
Amongst those under arrest are Olivier Bibou Nissack, spokesman of Maurice Kamto and Alain Fogue National Treasurer of the CRM. Kamto is part remains under house arrest in Yaoundé.
Amsterdam and Partners LLP, an International Law firm, retained by Maurice Kamto to defend potential victims of the protest earlier warned the Biya regime that it would take legal action should the Government violate the rights to peaceful expression.
In a letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guteress, Robert R. Amsterdam CEO of the Law firm says, “We also notify you of our intent to hold accountable all responsible officials of the Republic of Cameroon for any violation of human rights, civil rights and physical safety of Prof Maurice Kamto, members of the CRM and all those who participate in peaceful process and opposition activities on September 22, 2020.”
Human Rights Watch has warned the Cameroon Government not to take advantage of the coronavirus and 2014 Anti Terrorism Law to crack down on freedom of expression.