The recent suspension of two local newspapers in Cameroon, have sparked up questions, as to the nation’s regard for freedom of the press.
Last Thursday, November 21, the National Communication Council (NCC), the media watchdog in Cameroon handed down to The Guardian Post and Ouest Littoral, three months suspension from publication, for the papers as well as for their publishers. According to the media supervisory body, the papers were found lacking in “ethics and professional conduct”, and charged with using derogatory words against personalities, who have complained to the NCC.
The NCC decision has sparked up a wave of bitterness amongst local publishers and editors, who among others say they doubt the process that led to the taking of the decision. As per a communiqué, Cameroon newspaper publishers on Wednesday November 27, 2013 in Yaoundé demanded the sanctions be “uplifted immediately and unconditionally”.
The NCC on her part stands its ground to say she is out for utmost respect of professional ethics by the media in Cameroon. After gaining regulatory rights in 2012, the council, moved from an observatory body to a “sanctioning” one. Earlier on in September, it handed down sanctions on some papers, for their lack of professional ethics and conduct, amongst them The Guardian Post which very recently gave a face-lift after its two-month suspension.
The wrangle goes on, as some pressmen question the authenticity and independence of the NCC which was created by presidential decree, and which has dealt sanctions after supposed hits on some of its officials by the sanctioned newspapers. Others simply believe it is a political arm to muzzle the press. But as it is often said, “who polices the ombudsman?”