Cameroonian web journalist, Paul Chouta is expected to walk free anytime soon. Chouta was convicted today & sentenced to 23 months in jail.
Having been arrested and detained since May 28, 2019, the journalist had served more than the time for which he was sentenced.
The court added that he would pay a fine of 2 million CFA ($3725) before being freed from the dreaded Kondengui prison where he’s being held.
Though convicted and sentenced, many rejoice over his pending freedom, given that it was hardly believed he would even be released, due to the nature of the country’s judiciary and authorities’ treatment of the press.
According to Angela Quintal, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, “there was no reason for Chouta to have been in pre-trial detention for a day, let alone 18 months…”.
Also reacting to the pending release of the pressman CPJ said “Paul Chouta should never have been arrested in the first place, let alone detained for 2 years on criminal defamation & false news charges while the case dragged on & on & on”.
“We trust there will not be another travesty of justice & that Paul will be freed,” it added.
That wish however, may be hard to come to pass. Chouta’s case though gory, is seen by many as a triumph in a media landscape where a journalist can be arrested and tortured to death in detention, and his family denied the body for over two years.
Chouta’s sentence it should be noted, is similar to that handed Journalist Wawa Jackson who was sentenced to a period less than what he had already served.
As the days go by, many journalists remain in fear of becoming the next Paul Chouta, Wawa Jackson, Kingsley Njoka or worst, the next Wazizi.
Mimi Mefo Info