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



    MONTREAL, March 4 /CNW Telbec/ - 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
staples.
    "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.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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