Cameroon was colonized by Germany in the 19thcentury. Present day Cameroon was created in 1961 by the unification of two former colonies of the British and the French. Since its unification, it has struggled from a one party state to a multiparty system in which freedom of expression is limited. During its struggle for independence, Cameroon suffered a bloody/savage uprising which was subdued with the help of the French forces. Cameroon is not an electoral democracy although the 1996 constitutional revisions created an upper chamber for the legislature, a decentralized system of regional government, and a Constitutional Court; none of these provisions have been implemented. The president is not required to consult the National Assembly, and the Supreme Court may review the constitutionality of a law only at the president’s request. Since 1992, the executive has initiated every bill passed by the legislature. Cameroon boasts one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. However corruption continues to hamper progress of the country.
President: President Paul BIYA (November 1982)
National Anthem: The Rallying Song
Official languages: French, English
Population: 23,739,218(current estimate)
Media and Freedom of Expression lanscape in Cameroon
The constitution guarantees free speech but genuine freedom of expression is elusive. The government continues to limit the enjoyment of this right in practice. Even though the 1996 constitution ended pre-publication censorship, the charter’s Article 17 gives officials the power to ban publications deemed to be a threat to ‘public order’. Libel and defamation continue to be criminal offences, and judicial harassment and arrest and persecution of journalists and writes have engendered self-censorship. In December 2014, President Paul Biya promulgated an a new antiterrorism law which could sharply suppress freedom of expression. Journalists risk a jail sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of 25 to 50 million CFA francs ($51,000 to $102,000) for “defending terrorism”. The government tightly controls media broadcast. The three independent television stations avoided criticizing the government and generally relayed government information to the public. (Cameroon Human Rights Report)
Security forces continued to restrict press freedom by arresting, detaining, physically abusing, threatening, and otherwise harassing print-media journalists. The Government seized print runs of private newspapers and interfered with private newspaper distribution.
Created in 1991 by a presidential decree, the National Communication Council (CNC), is the country’s media regulator and its powers spans from frequency allocation to arbitration on libel and defamation cases. Since 2012, the CNC has the power to impose sanction including bans on media outlets. visit Freedom House to read further.
You can also visit BBC Profile on Cameroon for more.