Freedom of the Press 2009 - Cameroon
|Publication Date||1 May 2009|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2009 - Cameroon, 1 May 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b27421d34.html [accessed 26 November 2015]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 20 (of 30)
Political Environment: 24 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 21 (of 30)
Total Score: 65 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.
The 1996 constitution provides for freedoms of the press and of speech, but the government continued to restrict these rights in practice during 2008.
There are no legal provisions guaranteeing equal access to information, and libel and defamation remain criminal offenses.
Journalists covering high-profile corruption cases were harassed, arrested, and in some cases jailed during the year. Between September and December, four newspaper editors were jailed in connection with critical coverage of government officials, making Cameroon the second-ranked jailer of journalists in Africa, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Journalists are occasionally harassed, intimidated, and physically assaulted, in some instances by security forces. Authorities cracked down on private broadcast media in February, as riots broke out in response to the government's decision to amend the constitution to allow President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982, to run for reelection in 2011. Security forces stormed and shut down two private radio stations and a private television station, while the communications minister warned journalists to moderate their coverage. The state broadcaster banned a critical song, titled "50 Years in Power," and suspended a radio presenter for airing it. The three silenced broadcasters were allowed to reopen in July, but some of their equipment remained seized by authorities.
There are about 25 regularly published newspapers, including private and state-owned papers.
Radio is the most important medium for most of the population. The state-owned CRTV operates both radio and television outlets. The first private radio and television licenses were granted in 2007, though approximately 70 privately owned radio stations reportedly operate outside the law because of high licensing fees.
Foreign broadcasters are permitted to operate within Cameroon and are widely accessible to Cameroonians who can afford the requisite equipment.
Access to the internet is not restricted by the government, though slow connections and high fees at internet cafes helped to limit access to just 2 percent of the population in 2008.