Journalist faces death penalty in Cameroon after military court conviction

The conviction has been described as an "outrage"

Radio France International (RFI) journalist Ahmed Abba is reportedly at the risk of being sentenced to death after being convicted by a military court in Cameroon.

According to Aljazeera.com, the RFI journalist was set to be sentenced on Monday, April 24, on charges of “non-denunciation of terrorism” and “laundering of the proceeds of terrorist acts”.

According to his lawyer, Clement Nakong, and the RFI, Abba was convicted for his reports on the Nigerian insurgent group Boko Haram.

The RFI, as well as his lawyer, told the Committee to Protect Journalists that Abba has been in custody since July 2015 and was, however, set to appeal the conviction.

The RFI has since called on Cameroonian authorities to free their journalist, adding that military court had acquitted the journalist of a lesser charge of “apologising for acts of terrorism”.

Meanwhile, CPJ deputy direct Robert Mahoney has described the conviction as an “outrage”, adding that journalism should not be “equated with committing acts of terror”.

“The military court’s conviction of Cameroonian radio journalist Ahmed Abba on terrorism charges that could carry the death penalty is an outrage.

“Covering terrorism as a reporter must not be equated with committing acts of terror. Each day Abba spends behind bars is a travesty of justice,” he said in a press release on the CPJ’s website.

A controversial anti-terrorism law in 2014 reintroduced the death penalty. Cameroon has not carried out an execution since 1997, according to Amnesty International.

Cameroon has remained in a protracted battle with the Boko Haram since 2014, when the fighters began attacking the government.

Reports have claimed that Abba and a lot of other journalists were the victims of Cameroon’s “war on terror”.

According to News24, three other journalists – Baba Wame, Rodrigue Tongue, and Félix Cyriaque Ebolé Bola – who were arrested in 2014, are also been prosecuted in a military tribunal for failing to disclose information and sources to the government.

The trio were investigating allegations of complicity of security forces with an armed group from Central African Republic destabilising Cameroon’s East region.

In August 2015, Simon Ateba, a freelance Nigerian-based Cameroonian journalist, was arrested and detained four days on accusations of espionage for his investigations into abysmal conditions of refugees in the Far North region.

In April 2014, Denis Nkwebo, the president of Cameroon’s press union, had his car bombed. Nkwebo has received repeated threats for his reporting on Cameroon’s security forces. - News24

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