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A Berlin-based journalist who was due to speak at a press freedom conference in Brisbane has said she was denied a visa by the Australian government because they believed she might try to stay. Mimi Mefo, an award-winning Cameroonian journalist who currently works for Deutsche Welle, was scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the Integrity 20 conference on Friday. Read in full.
Index on Censorship calls on Cameroon to immediately release rapper and pro-democracy activist Gaston Serval Abe, known as General Valsero. He was detained near the site of a protest — he wasn’t participating in — in the capital Yaoundé in January and faces trial on 6 September.
Valsero’s pro-democracy messages and raps about the rights of the Cameroonian people have earned him a large following. He and other opposition activists are being held on charges that could carry the death penalty. Amnesty International has called for Valsero’s release.
United Nations experts expressed concerns about the crackdown on protests after the re-election of President Paul Biya in 2018 and called for the protection of freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.
Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award winner Mimi Mefo has written for English PEN about writers, filmmakers and artists jailed for voicing political concern in Cameroon, including the case of Valsero.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy at Index said: “Index calls on the authorities of Cameroon to release Valsero immediately and to respect artists’ right to freedom of expression. His case demonstrates how Cameroon is failing to meet its international human rights obligations”.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text][socialpug_tweet tweet=”Cameroon must #FREEVALSERO Cameroonian hip-hop artist Valserio has been in prison since January. He is currently facing 8 charges, some of which carry the death penalty. Sign the @Amnesty petition calling for his release: https://join.amnesty.org/page/41188/petition/1?locale=en-UK” display_tweet=”Cameroon must #FREEVALSERO Cameroonian hip-hop artist Valserio has been in prison since January. He is currently facing 8 charges, some of which carry the death penalty. Sign the @Amnesty petition calling for his release: https://join.amnesty.org/page/41188/petition/1?locale=en-UK” remove_url=”yes” remove_username=”yes”][/vc_column_text][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1567601648304-b1cd5de8-37ee-0″ taxonomies=”6534″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/aRODwaISqKo”][vc_column_text]Mimi Mefo is one of less than a handful of journalists working without fear or favour in Cameroon’s climate of repression and self-censorship. An award-winning broadcast journalist at private media house Equinoxe TV and Radio, Mefo is courageous in her commitment to the truth, journalistic integrity and freedom of expression.
Through broadcast reports, social media and a newly founded website, Mefo informs Cameroonians about the escalating violence in the country’s western regions, in a conflict that has become known as the “Anglophone Crisis”. The conflict has caused hundreds of deaths, including civilians, and has exacerbated the already critical condition of media freedom.
The Cameroonian government has long been a direct threat to the press and has recently intimidated and arrested journalists accusing them of supporting terrorists. Between January 2017 and November 2018, at least 15 journalists were detained. Four are still behind bars.
At the same time, the separatist movement has also grown increasingly intolerant to critical media, and journalists like Mefo have been caught in a double-barrelled threat. Mefo has herself been followed home by mysterious cars and faced intimidation, online harassment and imprisonment.
Her job might be under threat, too, as her employer is coming under growing government pressure because of her defiant line. Equinoxe has already been temporarily forced off the air by Cameroonian police in the past, and now faces new threats of sanctions for Mefo’s coverage of the crisis. Her boss has been questioned by government officials, who complained about her reporting and told him she needs to be “reined in”.
Mefo has denounced the harassment of other Cameroonian journalists and used her digital media to inform the public about the abuses and amplify campaigns calling for the release of those jailed.
Her impact has been tangible: one of her tweets denouncing the poor health of journalist Thomas Awah Junior in prison was shared widely, and only then was he allowed to receive treatment. She was also behind the social media campaign that led to the release of Josiane Kouagheu and Mathias Mouende Ngamo hours after they were arrested on 21 and 27 October.
In September 2018 she founded her own website, Mimi Mefo Info, where she publishes updates from her reporting on the ground. After she published reports that the military was behind the death of an American missionary, she was arrested on 7 November on charges of “publishing and propagating information that infringes on the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cameroon”. A social media campaign and pressure from Equinoxe and international organisations were able to secure her release on 10 November. Mefo resumed reporting immediately.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”104691″ img_size=”full” onclick=”custom_link” link=”https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2019/01/awards-2019/”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards exist to celebrate individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_basic_grid post_type=”post” max_items=”4″ element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1553854718059-c3a931fd-6c29-7″ taxonomies=”26925″][/vc_column][/vc_row]
A Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo has been shortlisted for an award for her fearless mode of reportage in Cameroon’s media landscape considered as repressive and self censoring. Read the full article.