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Cameroon: Minister’s representative calls for responsible journalism

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
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CJA Cameroon World Press Freedom Day

by Theodore M. Ndze

The representative of the Minister of Communication, Ekane Metuge, Inspector General in the Ministry of Communication, has told journalists to be responsible and truthful in the discharge of their duties.

Speaking in Buea on May 3, 2014, the Inspector General said journalism is a very delicate profession that requires responsible and level-headed professionals because an irresponsible journalist can cause untold hardship to a people who may after all be innocent, can or even set the nation ablaze.

He said journalists must practice the profession in keeping with the laws in full force. He reminded journalists to investigate stories properly before they publish them as any untrue publication may attract the wrath of the victims. Such a journalist could embrace the law for misleading public opinion.

He advised journalists to be the true watchdogs and be ambassadors of the nation, by reporting only the truth and nothing but the truth.

As for some disturbing Sections of the 1990 Freedom of Mass Communication laws, the journalists raised concerns about, Mr. Metuge said he would take back the message to the Minister of Communication.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHe praised the journalists for the massive turn-out for the World Press Freedom Day and promised to convey their worries to the Minister, whose door is always open for discussion.

Concluding, he lauded the organizers of the WPFD in Buea and wished them well in their deliberations.

On his part, the South West Governor’s representative praised the journalists for coming together to celebrate their day, but warned of misinformation and distortion of facts that could lead to a breach of public peace. He spoke of responsible journalism that would help build the nation and not destroy it.

Earlier in his opening remarks, the President of Commonwealth Journalists’ Association (CJA)-Cameroon, HRH Chief Foanyi Nkemayang Paul, said the coming together of four journalism associations showed the love for one another and the willingness of journalists to work in synergy, and having with a common approach to work in keeping with the cardinal objectives of the profession.

He criticized some Sections of the 1990 Freedom of Mass Communication Laws and called on government to revise those sections he described as obnoxious and despicable. Chief Foanyi said those laws run riot with the much heralded freedom of the press democratic principles in the country.

The National President of CUJ and Member of the National Communication Council, Charles Ndi Chia, presented a well-crafted paper on investigative journalism and professional ethics. His paper was pregnant with meaning and could pass for a lecture in any institution of higher learning. Ndi Chia gave the journalists what is required to become a good watchdog of the society and a journalist of class.

A paper titled: “World Press Freedom Day 2014” a message of CAMASEJ President Tricia Oben, was read out with an excuse for her absence. In her paper, she said that World Press Freedom Day is an opportunity for all well meaning people to be reminiscent of the necessity to promote, protect and safeguard the freedom of expression and of the press.

She said a free and independent media is central to building strong democracies, promoting civic participation and the rule of law, and encouraging human development,

During the celebration, George Ngwane used the occasion to present two documents that have to do with strengthening the profession of journalism in Cameroon. The first was a draft Law to revise Law No. 90/052 of December 19, 1990 on Freedom of Mass Communication and Law No 96/04 of January 4, 1996 amending and supplementing certain provisions thereof.

He also presented a draft Law on access to public information and records in Cameroon; and this draft was scrutinized by media professionals under the umbrella of AFRICAphonie in collaboration with the British High Commission, Yaounde.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe over 100 journalists listened to some resolutions on the draft: Laws with a call on government to look into them without delay.

George Ngwane took time to explain what prompted the drafts; the dangers of preaching democracy without freedom of the press or access to information sources.

The United States Embassy was represented at the WPFD by Erika Lewis, Political Officer, and Jacques Kateu, Political Specialist.

In a brief statement, Erika called on journalists to look at the world as a global village and work to enhance results like what obtains in the Western world. She reminded the journalists that a free press comes with a lot of responsibility and maturity; so she called on all and sundry to work for the common good.

She thanked the Journalists for working as a team and encouraged them to be accountable and honest in their endeavours.

The representative of the British High Commissioner to Cameroon Arrey Elvis Ntui commended the journalists, for coming together to celebrate the event and said responsible journalism is the hallmark of excellence; and every good move to improve on the lot of Cameroon journalism including freedom of the press and access to sources of information, is appreciable.

Speaking on the theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, “Media Freedom for a Better Future: Shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda”, he said the international community has set the stage to prepare a long-term agenda for sustainable development to succeed in the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015.

A joint message from UN Secretary General and UNESCO Director General, respectively Ban Ki-moon and Irina Bokova, was read. In their message, they painted a sorrowful picture of what media practitioners are passing through, and called on governments to improve on their media records.

Source du Pays support WPFD

Source du Pays, one of Cameroon’s successful breweries, assisted the World Press Freedom Day with Supermont water and Planet Pineapple which the journalists drank before and after meals. These were the only products consumed by the journalists during the celebration at the Parliamentarian Flat, Buea.

Photos courtesy of CJA Cameroon: Top – Officials and journalists at World Press Freedom Day event in Buea, Cameroon. Centre – Minister of Communications representative Ekane Metuge.  Bottom – Journalist at World Press Freedom Day presentations in Buea.

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