For its member, the newspaper Kalara and for the right to free information, the Cameroonian publishers will take legal action. This is the content of a Communiqué published on December 19 by the President of the Federation of Press Publishers in Cameroon (Fedipresse), Haman Mana, who is also the Publishing Director of the daily Le Jour. Here is the full press release:
“Fedipresse, the federation of press editors in Cameroon has just been informed of the verdict rendered on December 18, 2020 by the Court of Appeal of the Center in the case between the weekly Kalara, its publication director, Christophe BOBIOKONO, and his journalist Irène Mbezele to the CPDM activist, Me Faustine FOTSO CHEUBOU KAMDEM. The newspaper was initially convicted following a complaint filed by the lawyer for defamation and contempt of body following articles published in the columns of Kalara in October 2018 and reporting the words of the complainant in a recording where she admitted to having influenced the trial which opposed the then candidate for the presidential election, the former President of the Bar Akere Muna to his sister, the former Minister of the CPD Ama Tutu MUNA.
In his judgment, the magistrate Emgbang Ondoa and his colleagues recognize the newspaper Kalara, its publication director and its guilty journalist. Worsens their financial convictions as well as:
Christophe Bobiokono should pay 4 million francs in fines and 407,900 francs in costs.
Ms. Mbezele must pay Mr. Fotso Cheubou Kamdem 1 million francs and the court 407,900 francs in costs. These financial sentences were immediately accompanied by a 24-month jail term for each of the convicts in the event of non-payment.
Fedipresse, which has followed the trial since the judicial investigation, notes that the Court of Appeal increased the financial penalty for the newspaper Kalara: XAF 2,715,800 for a total of XAF 5,815,800. In a procedure that was neither fair , neither fair:
In front of the TPI of Yaoundé-administrative center had lasted 20 hours at a stretch.
Before the Court of Appeal, the debates lasted more than 10 hours at a stretch.
However, neither the CFI nor the Court of Appeal took into account the arguments of the journalists. Worse, the bailiff’s report produced by the complainant herself and which overwhelmed her mysteriously disappeared from the file. The second witness who had knocked down the complainant at first instance curiously disappeared when her national identity card was already in the hands of the judges, without the latter taking offense.
Fedipresse therefore draws the conclusion that this parody of justice, one more against journalists and press editors in Cameroon, is part of a strategy to embellish freedom, opinion, investigation in a country where the decline of fundamental rights and freedoms is notable.
Fedipresse announces its constitution of civil party in the future actions which its member, the Director of the publication of Kalara, will bring against the magistrates and auxiliaries of justice implied in this denial of justice. Fedipresse reserves any other additional action ”.
Yaoundé, December 19, 2020
Haman MANA, president