Monday, November 29, 2010

CJFE welcomes release of journalists Serge Sabouang and Robert Mintya

By our international desk Amsterdam - source: CJFE/IFEX - Toronto, November 25, 2010 - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) welcomes the news yesterday that Cameroonian journalists Robert Mintya and Serge Sabouang have been released from Kondengui prison in Yaoundé on the order of Cameroonian President Paul Biya.

Mintya, the editor of the weekly Le Devoir and chair of the ethics board of Union des Journalists Libres du Cameroun, and Sabouang, publisher of the bimonthly newspaper La Nation, have been imprisoned since March 10, 2010. They had been accused of possessing documents compromising to key figures in the Republic. Their colleague, editor of the Cameroun Express Bibi Ngota, was also imprisoned with them. He died there of unconfirmed causes on April 22, but CJFE believes that he died due to the appalling conditions in the prison and a lack of medical attention.

CJFE is awarding one of two International Press Freedom Awards to the three journalists this evening at the CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Fearless Reporting in Toronto. The award is given to journalists who have shown great courage and have overcome enormous odds simply to produce the news. Ngota's sister Thérèse Tchoubet and her husband Bosco Tchoubet will be accepting the award on behalf of all three journalists.

Thérèse Tchoubet, speaking from Toronto said "We have CJFE to thank. Their recognition of the case contributed directly to the liberation of Serge and Robert. It is a victory."

Mintya and Sabouang have been released conditionally. CJFE welcomes the news of their release, and hopes that they will be able to continue their work as journalists in safety and without fear of retribution. However, we urge the government of Cameroon to drop all charges in recognition that Mintya and Sabouang, along with Ngota, were simply doing their jobs as journalists, and have committed no crime.

"The fact they were released the day before they were to receive their awards is proof to us that bringing international pressure to bear can have an incredible impact," said CJFE Executive Director Annie Game. "It is an inspiration to continue this important work on behalf of our colleagues in Cameroon and around the world."

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