UN raises concerns as another Cameroonian journalist killed
The United Nations has said it is concerned about the safety of journalists in Cameroon following the killing of a second reporter in the country in two weeks.
Radio presenter Jean-Jacques Ola Bebe, an Orthodox priest, was found dead on February 2 near his home in the Mimboman neighbourhood of the capital Yaounde, apparently shot dead by unknown assailants, UN Human Rights Spokesperson Seif Magango said in a statement on Tuesday.
The killing of the radio presenter occurred 11 days after the mutilated body of another star radio host, Mbani Zogo Arsène Salomon — popularly known as Martinez Zogo — was discovered on the outskirts of the capital city.
Both Bebe and Zogo used their platforms to denounce corruption and embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.
Led call for justice
A close associate of Zogo, Bebe was at the frontline of a campaign calling for justice and accountability for the slain broadcaster whose gruesome murder has put the 40-year-old Yaounde regime on heat.
“The Cameroonian authorities must take all necessary measures to create an enabling environment for journalists to work without fear of reprisal, and to uphold the right to freedom of expression,” UN’s Magango said in the statement.
He added that a free, independent and diverse media environment is vital in ensuring citizens are informed and can hold public institutions to account.
Several people including an influential businessman have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the abduction and subsequent brutal murder of Zogo. The arrests followed an investigation ordered by President Paul Biya, who has ruled the country since 1982.
Hold killers to account
“We note that President Biya has ordered investigations into Martinez Zogo’s killing, and certain arrests have been made. We call on the authorities to ensure that Ola Bebe’s killing is also independently, effectively and impartially investigated and that those found to be responsible for these killings, at all levels, are held to account,” the UN rights spokesperson said.
The killing of the two radio presenters is the latest in a thread of attacks on journalists in the country with a booming media landscape, yet problematic in terms of safety of the industry’s workers.
Cameroon remains one of the Africa’s worst jailers of journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and is one of the continent’s most dangerous countries for journalists to work in, according to Reporters Without Borders.
According to the UN, at least three other journalists in the country reported that they had last month received credible threats from unidentified people.