CIVICUS condemns the decision by Cameroon's National Communications Council to suspend journalists Séverin Tchounkeu (CEO) and Cédrick Noufele (Editor-in-chief and presenter), who are working with the privately-owned broadcaster Equinoxe TV for one month.
Their programme "Droit de Réponse" ("Right of Reply") has also been banned from airing for the same duration. The journalists were suspended after hosting representatives of teachers' unions on the programme.
The suspension of these journalists and their programme undermines press freedom and independent media as a foundation of democratic and accountable governance in Cameroon. Such continued practices have an immense consequence on citizens' voices that need to be heard the loudest, not silenced en masse. Suspending journalists and banning TV programmes restrict citizens' right to information and freedom of expression.
All governments must protect the right to freedom of expression and information. However, the decision to suspend the two journalists infringes these human rights and is of great concern to all democratic and human rights-loving people.
"Equinox TV is one of the few independent media outlets that speak courageously about human rights violations and issues affecting the people of Cameroon in an increasingly hostile environment for the media. Cameroonian authorities should immediately reverse this decision and allow Séverin Tchounkeu and Cédrick Noufele to resume their work. The media regulator must stop attempts to censor the content of privately-owned media outlets, said Paul Mulindwa, CIVICUS Advocacy and Campaigns Officer.
On February 28, Noufele hosted a panel discussion on "Right of Reply" about a nationwide teachers' strike. Cameroonian public-school teachers have been on strike since February 2022, citing deteriorating conditions and unpaid salaries, some dating back years. Despite the government's various promises to resolve and address their requests, not all teachers are convinced. Following the teachers' union leaders being hosted on the TV, on April 1, the National Communications Council media regulator announced that Equinoxe TV CEO Séverin Tchounkeu, the editor-in-chief and presenter Cédrick Noufele were both suspended from working as journalists for one month and that the outlet's "Droit de Réponse" ("Right of Reply") program was barred from airing during that time.
The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Cameron as repressed.