Cameroon bans three newspapers for flouting rules

Issa Tchiroma, Communication Minister
Issa Tchiroma, Communication Minister

Cameroon media regulator, the National Communication Council (NCC), has banned three newspapers and a publisher for allegedly flouting professional ethics.

The ban comes amid journalists’ continued criticism of NCC for being a threat to press freedom.

The media regulator announced on Tuesday it had imposed an indefinite ban on the French language weekly newspapers, Aurore and Aurore Plus, and prohibited the publisher, Mr Michel Michaud Moussala, from practising journalism in the country. Another French language weekly, the Depeche du Cameroun and its publisher, Mr Gilbert Avang, also received similar sanctions.

Mr Moussala and his papers were accused of repeated publication of unfounded allegations against the former CEO of the Cameroon Airlines Corporation, Mr Paul Nana Sandjo.

The Cameroon media watchdog said both publishers defied an earlier suspension by the agency this year.

NCC also sanctioned over 20 journalists, including Ms Marie Irene Ndzana Fouda of the state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), for allegedly flouting professional ethics.

Out of 24 complaints against mostly French language media organs and journalists, only two defendants were spared.

The lone English Language newspaper that was affected by the latest sanctions was the Cameroon Herald.

The paper and its publisher, Mr Kingsley Ako, were suspended for six months each. Also suspended for the same period were French language newspapers; Le Soir and publisher Mr Armand Mbianda, La Scene and publisher Mr Christian Emok, L’Epervier and publisher Mr Clovis Leopold Noudjio

The National Union of Cameroon Journalists (SNJC) was yet to officially comment on the latest sanctions by the regulator.

The union had described previous NCC suspensions as an attempt by government to muzzle the already gagged press.

Some journalists and activists say the regulator, whose members are appointed by a presidential decree, was a threat to press freedom and had no mandate to regulate the press.

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