There have been several messages at the local and global levels for journalists today as they commemorate the 2020 World Press Freedom Day.
With focus on free and fair reporting, many have placed the government at the center of the challenges faced by the press.
former Equinox TV news editor, Nfor Hanson Nchanji shares the same view.
African Countries he says are becoming increasingly a threat to the practice of journalism, especially nations that have long serving rulers.
“I have taken a look at each country and come to the conclusion that Presidents who want to live long in power ,who go at the extent of raping the constitution, see Journalists as obstacles to their terms in office” Nfor Hanson Nchanji writes.
Having practiced in Cameroon before, he says it is “a good example of a country where journalists visit the prisons more than they are appreciated. The Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ has an excellent record about that; Cameroon is top on the list of countries with many journalists in prison, many arrested for alleged fake news, as they now use the 2014 terrorism law to clamp down on journalists.”
Mr Nchanji adds that: “the ongoing armed conflict has further exposed the precarious situation of journalists in Cameroon. Take a good look at newspaper headlines today! You will weep for journalism.”
The hostile environment Hanson says is also fertile ground for the destruction of the journalism practice. He recognises that a select few have stood their ground but have had to go into hiding for their lives.
“For those still holding to the truth, you know what has happened to them. Many like me have gone into self exile while those back home are doing what we call ‘Bite and Blow'”.
“The only way forward is a free press! We need a free press where you will not have to register your newspaper at the Senior Divisional Level, because that is where censorship begins… We need a strong and proactive National Communication Council and not the one that carries whips around behind every journalist and media house” Hanson opines.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, CPJ, some seven journalists in Cameroon are currently behind bars. With the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been repeated calls for their release bearing in mind the poor conditions they are held under. The calls have however met with usual government silence.
Mimi Mefo Info