Authorities in Cameroon should immediately release and drop all charges against Mimi Mefo, the head of English news and a presenter for the privately owned Equinoxe television and radio station, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Mefo, who also runs Mimi Mefo Info, her own news website, was arrested and taken to the central New Bell prison in Douala yesterday, where she remains after having been summoned to appear before the national gendarmerie, Mefo's lawyer Tamfu Richard told CPJ.
Mefo was questioned for several hours, charged with "publishing and propagating information that infringes on the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cameroon," and scheduled to appear before a military tribunal on November 12, according to Richard. Prior to her arrest, Mefo told CPJ that the summons was "no surprise," as she had received several threats for her reporting on unrest in the western, Anglophone regions of Cameroon.
"Cameroon cannot be allowed to suppress coverage of unrest in its western, Anglophone regions by detaining journalists like Mimi Mefo. She must be released immediately," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "The charge of publishing information that infringes on territorial integrity is a laughable smokescreen for censorship, plain and simple."
Late last month, Cameroonian authorities arrested Michel Biem Tong, editor of the privately owned Hurinews website. He has yet to be freed or charged, according to CPJ research.