May 2017

Journalist Ahmed ABBA, correspondent for Radio France Internationale (Rfi) in the Haussa language in Cameroon, was sentenced on Monday 24th April 2017 by the Yaoundé Military Court to ten years in prison. He will also have to pay a fine of 55 million CFA francs.

CRM, that wishes both the independence of the judiciary in our country, does not intend here to comment on a court decision. However, beyond the decision itself, it is against the state of terror that is institutionalized in the country, in particular since the adoption of Law 2014/028 of 23 December 2014 on the repression of Acts of terrorism that it strongly arises against.

While approving the principle of the enactment of an appropriate law to face the challenge of terrorism, CRM had alerted the national and international opinion on the quality of this law n ° 2014/028 of December 23, 2014.

Indeed, CRM had denounced and maintained that, as it was drafted, this law aimed, beyond the fight against terrorism, to maintain the dominant political order by giving the regime the power to reduce to silence by the means of State and by instrumentalizing justice, all those who think differently.

CRM had perceived, in advance, in the formulation of this law a clear desire of the regime to sacrifice political, civic and professional freedoms of Cameroonians on the altar of the fight against terrorism for political purposes. This is a freedom-destroying law.

Since then, current events in our country unfortunately confirm CRM fears every day. The conviction with such a heavy sentence and fine of a journalist on the ground that he would not have denounced persons encountered in the exercise of his profession, established the criminalization of a profession whose contribution to democracy is irreplaceable. This profession obeys a deontological code whose proofs of violation by Ahmed ABBA remain to be brought.

Referring to this conviction, the Minister of Communication, in an interview on CRTV radio, on April 25th 2017, declared that Ahmed ABBA, who according to him is only a “pseudo-journalist, is neither more nor less that an outgrowth of Boko Haram which is hiding behind the respectable face of RFI to perpetrate his crime “.

Such a hateful statement, and especially without public evidence, of the Government’s spokesman reveals the regime’s apprehension that the press would be free, independent and impervious to corruption, on which it bases its control of opinion and its perpetuation in power. It especially hides deficiencies of the competent services which should have anticipated or at least made judicious use of Mr. Ahmed ABBA’s contacts.

Ahmed ABBA became one of the many sacrificial victims of freedom of information. In his case, it is the freedom of the press, that all authoritarian regimes hate, which is condemned.

In view of the social and economic disaster in which 35 years of a corrupt regime, fearing contradiction, plunged Cameroon that at the end of the 1970s, created strong expectations for development, freedom of any media, including the one that Ahmed ABBA represented in our country, is perceived as a real threat to their survival by hawks of this regime.

The case of Ahmed ABBA must be a concern to all Cameroonians and democrats, all national and international organizations involved in the defence of freedoms and all those interested in the political future of the country.

Cameroonians must not be fooled: the political order that the regime wants to impose through this heavy sentence is part of the general rehearsal before the 2018 elections for which the regime is preparing to oppose change by an all-out and blind repression.

CRM calls on the authorities to resort to any means offered by our national legal system to free Ahmed ABBA, who is a professional journalist whose practice has not been questioned neither by his Cameroonian and foreign peers nor by his employer.

Communication Team
May 02, 2017