Press Freedom: Journalists’ trade union members to wear unique identifiers

By Bakah Derick (

Frontline reporters and members of the Cameroon Journalists’ Trade Union CJTU also known as SNJC in French will from now hence wear blue press vests while on duty with a white back tag “PRESSE” and front “PRESSE” on the right side of the chest and the union’s logo on the left.

The first group of CJTU members received their vests in Douala on Saturday November 2 just shortly after a round table conference on the 2019 edition of the International Day to End Impunity against Journalists on the theme “protection and security of journalists in Cameroon.” The vests which are unique to union members come amidst criticism of growing harassment of journalists and related media workers across Cameroon especially in conflict hit NW/SW regions.

First group of CJTU members to receive vests

Witnessing and participating in the handing over of the vest was the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System in Cameroon Allegra Baiocchi who noted that her institution is concerned about the safety of journalists particularly at the time world statistics suggest that at least a journalist dies in the world every four days. Strangely she added that nine out of ten cases leading to the death of journalists go unpunished. 

SNJC, UN System Cameroon
CJTU National President Denis Nkwebo receives first Vest from Allegra Baiocchi UN system resident representative

Henri Goueth representative of the regional delegate of communication for the Littoral noted that the government is making an effort to protect journalists and related media workers in Cameroon but finds it difficult at times due to lack of identification. 

CJTU National President Denis Nkwebo told curious reporters that it was due to the growing need to provide his union members with some security that he contacted the UN System in Cameroon to get support for the production of the 300 identification body wears. He will also proceed to remind the State and media service employers of their duties to ensure that journalists do their work in security without limitation. 

CJTU NW members after receiving their vests

After Douala Littoral Region, Bamenda NW Region was the next city for the distribution of the vests. The over 20 members who showed up for the vest reception meeting have been sharing reactions of satisfaction. 

Colbert Gwain Communicator, Digital Rights Advocate, Author and radio host noted In international Humanitarian Law and during war, there is no particular rule that exempt Journalists from the fire. Even with the Vests we still know that we are exposed to a lot of danger but it important that somebody should see from a distance that, this is a journalist trying to do his or her job.

CJTU members celebrate their vests

“With this Vest, access to news sources and information will be an easy thing to me, with the Press Vest; I should be able to be identified and given access to information both from the side of the State and Non State actors in the armed conflict and feed the audience which I serve Ngongsong Jean Marie, Freelance correspondent for Deutche Welle Radio DW said. 

The NW Chapter executive during the handing over press briefing urged the public to collaborate with those wearing the vest as media workers doing their work. 

Members already using their vest for field work

The vests are already in use in the Littoral, South West and North West Regions with reporters gaining some right of way. 

Recently elected CJTU South West President Jato Derick led a group of media men and women to court where there was the hearing on the case involving a media worker Wazizi Samuel. We gathered that those with the vest had no issues accessing the court room.
CJTU National President Denis Nkwebo has announced that the distribution of the press vests to members of other chapters will be done in the days ahead. 

Aristide Ekambi CJTU/SNJC Douala Chapter president receiving vest

CJTU as a trade union it should be said fits in the international journalism solidarity chain with affiliations, founding member and membership positions in institutions like the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions in Cameroon (CSAC),  Central Africa Union of Trade Unions for Media Professionals USYPAC, Federation of African Journalists FAJ, Commonwealth Journalists Association CJA and the International Federation of Journalists IFJ. This according to Denis Nkwebo gives a CJTU member the authority to function without fear in any part of the world. 

some CJTU NW chapter members with vests in the field

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