Journalists guilty of defamation after ‘covert recording’

The publisher of a Cameroonian legal journal has been fined and given a two-year suspended sentence after one of his journalists secretly

recorded a barrister plotting how to shape a case for a high-profile client.

Barrister Fostine Fotso was representing Ama Tutu Muna, who is the sister of former presidential candidate Akere Muna.

The siblings had been clashing in a dispute over real estate.

It is alleged that Kalara newspaper, which is run by Christophe Bobiokono, published two articles based on a covertly recorded

conversation in 2018 with Barrister Fotso at a dinner in the capital, Yaoundé.

Mr Bobiokono told the BBC the case and his conviction were a “charade” and intended to silence public-interest journalism.

He was ordered to pay almost $17,000 (£13,000) in damages, plus an additional fine of just over $4,000 to be paid jointly by him and the

reporter on the story, Rosine Mbezele.

Journalists engaging in defamatory news

Abidjan, June 20, 2019 — Cameroonian authorities should immediately release journalist Paul Chouta and drop criminal defamation and

false news charges against him, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On May 28, in the Cameroonian capital of Yaounde, five police officers arrested Chouta, who works as a reporter for the privately

owned Cameroon Web news website, in response to a defamation complaint filed by French Cameroonian writer Calixthe Beyala,

according to Cameroon Web editor-in-chief Emmanuel Vitus, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app, and a person with knowledge of the

case who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.

Chouta was detained at the local police headquarters following his arrest, and on May 31 was denied bail, according to his lawyer,

Emmanuel Simh, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app. On June 10, he was charged with defamation, spreading false news, and hate

speech; the hate speech charge was dropped the following day, and Chouta was sent to the Kondengui maximum security prison in

Yaounde to await trial, according to Vitus and the person with knowledge of the case.