The UN Tuesday expressed concern for the safety of journalists in Cameroon following the second murder of a journalist within two weeks. In a statement, UN Human Rights spokesperson Seif Magango said that the murder of radio presenter Jean-Jacques Ola Bebe last Thursday follows several concerning reports of violence against journalists in Cameroon.Ola Bebe was found dead in his home in the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé after allegedly being shot dead by unknown assailants. In January, prominent journalist and radio station director Arsene Salomon Mbami Zogo, known as Martinez Zogo, was found dead following his abduction in Yaoundé a few days prior. His body was mutilated and “visibly subjected to significant physical cruelty”, according to a government statement, and more than 20 members of Cameroon’s General Directorate for External Investigations (DGRE) were arrested in connection with the murder.Both Ola Bebe and Zogo were outspoken critics of the Cameroonian government and publicly reported on corruption. They had denounced the misappropriation of public funds and cases of embezzlement across the public and private sectors. Ola Bebe publicly advocated for accountability and justice for Zogo’s murder, whom he had worked with closely.Magango urged authorities to address the increasingly violent media landscape: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 as guaranteed in international human rights law, and also set out in Cameroon’s Constitution. A free, independent, and diverse media environment is vital in ensuring citizens are informed and can hold public institutions to account.In January, at least three Cameroonian journalists reported that they had received threats from unidentified people. In 2020, TV presenter Samuel Wazizi died in military detention after being accused of “terrorism” for publicly criticising the Cameroonian authorities over their handling of civil unrest in 2019.
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