7 May 1998


Appeal to President Chirac to intervene on behalf of Pius Njawe

Incident details

Pius Njawe



(RSF/IFEX) - President Paul Biya of Cameroon, on a private visit to France,
met with his French counterpart on 5 May 1998. To mark this occasion, on 4
May, RSF delivered a letter to French President Jacques Chirac, in which the
organization asked him to intervene with President Biya in order to obtain
the release of Cameroon journalist Pius Njawe.

**Updates IFEX alerts of 23 and 14 April, 26 March, 20 February, and 20, 14
and 13 January 1998**

Njawe, editor of the private newspaper "Le Messager", was sentenced on 13
January 1998 to 2 years in prison for "spreading false information" in
connection with an article which appeared on 22 December 1997. The article
put forward the possibility that President Biya had suffered a cardiac
incident while watching a football match. The President's office refuted
this report in a denial published by "Le Messager" on 26 December 1997.

On 14 April 1998, Njawe's sentence was reduced on appeal to 1 year in
prison, but RSF continues to consider this sentence unfounded and
discriminatory, as Njawe committed no professional infraction.

When questioned last week about Njawe's case, Cameroon's Prime Minister,
Peter Musonge Mafany, mentioned the possibilities of an appeal to the Court
of Cassation or of a presidential pardon. Njawe has started the appeal
process, but the initiation of a Cassation appeal cannot begin until the
official sentencing document has been signed by the judge. Since this
document has not yet been drafted, the procedure has been blocked and any
possibility for interim release is gone.

In their letter to President Chirac, RSF asked the President to intervene
with President Biya to secure Njawe's release.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org

Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
More from Cameroon
  • Journalists Not Terrorists: In Cameroon, anti-terror legislation is used to silence critics and suppress dissent

    In 2014, Cameroon enacted a broad anti-terror law as part of its effort to counter the extremist group Boko Haram, but authorities are using it to arrest and threaten local journalists who report on the militants or unrest in the country’s English-speaking regions.

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Cameroon

    In September, a newspaper publisher was arrested for photographing the police breakup of a workshop on democracy. His trial was postponed several times during the year.

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Cameroon

    Ranked 145th in annual global media freedom report