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UN Committee looks at freedom of expression

The UN Human Rights Committee is concerned by the situation of freedom of expression in Cameroon, according to the committee’s chairperson, Cecelia Medina Quiroga.

The state’s power to seize and confiscate publications amounts to censorship, Quiroga said as the committee concluded, on Friday, its consideration of the Cameroon government’s fourth periodic report on its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Criminalising views expressed by journalists should be considered as “death to freedom of expression, death to democracy,” Quiroga said.

A delegation representing Cameroon’s government said journalists had not been arrested or convicted for opinions they had expressed or published although, like any other persons, they could be indicted for crimes related to defamation.

A Committee expert also said that military courts were disturbing elements in a democratic society and that trying civilians in military courts was against the principles of democratic thought.

Earlier this month, a military court sentenced dozens of people to jail terms, including three who were given life imprisonment -in connection with attacks in 1997 against state property in northwest Cameroon.

The attacks were blamed on a group that wants English-speaking western and south-western Cameroon to become a separate state.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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