Newspaper publisher held incommunicado and reporters attacked on streets as government steps up crackdown on media

Newspaper publisher held incommunicado and reporters attacked on streets as government steps up crackdown on media

Reporters Without Borders condemns an escalation in repression of
the privately-owned media, with yesterday’s arrest of Jacques Blaise
Mvié, the publisher of the La Nouvelle Presse weekly, and several cases
of physical violence against journalists covering a wave of street
demonstrations against increases in the prices of fuel and basic

“The protests against cost of living increases are beginning to
take a heavy toll on the media,” the press freedom organisation said.
“President Paul Biya and his associates seem to be ready to resort to
anything to ensure their political future, including arbitrary arrests
of journalists. As Cameroon is supposed to respect the rule of law,
there can be no grounds for holding Mvié incommunicado and he should
freed at once.”

Mvié was arrested yesterday morning by Military
Security troops acting on the orders of defence minister Rémy Ze Meka.
An article in the 27 February issue of La Nouvelle Presse accused him
of involvement in an alleged “coup attempt” last September that led to
several arrests of members of the armed forces. It is not known where
Mvié is being held.

Meanwhile, there have been several physical
attacks on journalists covering the street protests in Douala.
Cameraman Eric Golf Kouatchou of the Canal 2 International TV station
was beaten and briefly detained along with demonstrators by members of
the Mobile Intervention Group (GMI) on 27 February. His camera was
destroyed and he was not freed until he paid bail of 56,000 CFA francs
(83 euros), for which he was not given a receipt.

David Nouwou,
the deputy of editor of the daily La Nouvelle Expression, Patient
Ebwele, a correspondent of Le Jour, another daily, and Canal 2
International reporter Yvonne Cathy Nken were also attacked by the
security forces.

These incidents have come at time of great
tension between the government, military and press. At the end of last
month, the authorities ordered the temporary closure of Equinoxe TV and
two radio stations, Radio Equinoxe and Magic FM. As well as price
hikes, the social unrest is being fuelled by a plan to amend the
constitution to allow President Biya, who has been in power since 1982,
to run for another term in 2012.