Wednesday 17 August 2022 marked three years after the death in detention of Samuel Wazizi, a TV presenter based in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon. To date, his family has not been given the corpse and was only told he had died behind bars.
He had been arrested by the army weeks before his death and held incommunicado where he is believed to have been tortured.
After intense pressure, the army many months later said he died “as a result of severe sepsis”. However, rights groups and fellow pressmen believe otherwise.
“We are still shocked that authorities disappeared Wazizi and then covered up his death for 10 months, but we welcome the opening of an investigation and call on Cameroon’s government to make its findings public and ensure that all those responsible are brought to justice,” said Felix Agbor Nkongho of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA).
Yet, the independent probe never came and no one was ever held accountable.
Not even the promise to the media by French Ambassador, Christophe Guillou of an investigation by President Paul Biya, came to fruition.
Fight for truth
The army acknowledged Wazizi’s demise following intense pressure. Multiple court adjournments could not stop the increasing calls for his whereabouts to be made known.
Barrister Ewule, Wazizi’s lawyer told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), that he filed a habeas corpus application in the Fako Division of the High Court in Buea on August 13, 2019, to force authorities to either produce Wazizi in court and justify his detention, or order the journalist’s release.
The lawyer later revealed he “believed he (Wazizi) was being detained in connection with his critical views he expressed during the pidgin English news program on CMTV.”
Today, Wazizi’s murder behind bars remains a stark reminder that the Biya regime can get away with all sorts of human rights abuses, including the murder of innocent civilians. This has also reinforced the understanding that such crimes can be committed with impunity considering that those involved face no consequences.
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