Press Freedom: media professionals, opinion leaders tackle information holders at national forum

By Bakah Derick 

The Fourth National Forum on Press Freedom and Access to information has ended in Douala with Journalists and related media professionals intensifying conversations on press freedom and access to information. Organised by the non-governmental organisation Un Monde Avenir as part of activities to mark the 2022 edition of World Press Freedom Day, the National Forum focused on “press freedom and access to information; ingredients of democracy.” 
Philippe Nanga speaking during the forum 

According to the Director of Un Monde Avenir Philippe Nnanga and senior journalist Alex Gustave, Chairperson of the Organisation committee, the state holds the greatest authority in ensuring press freedom and access to information. The position that was endorsed by media professionals from across the ten regions of Cameroon, rights activists and members of parliament gave room for debates with the conclusion that there was need for a project to be formulated involving key actors with the intention to make government make the press truly free and improve on access to information by all. 

In an in-depth analysis in Cameroon, Journalism lecturer Prof Irene Atenga regretted the much approximation in media data in Cameroon. According to him there is an unhealthy consideration of the press mindful of the disagreement in media data or statistics provided by the communications and other related institutions like the communications council or press card commission. 
Forum participants listening to message of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet 

To better issues of press freedom in Cameroon, the UN representative at the forum Ngame Dimitte urged the government to take steps towards protecting journalists. While insinuating that his institution was doing much to promote press freedom but with different diplomatic restrictions in Cameroon, Ngame showed discontent with the shrinking, porous and crowded media space in Cameroon. 

After identifying the many challenges media professional face in Cameroon, the forum attendees settled for a “Douala declaration” which recommended the adoption of a law on media subventions which formalizes the annual assistance given the private media, ensure the implementation of the collective agreement bearing on salaries of media workers as well as stop the spying on them. 
Ngame Dimitte speaking at the Forum 

Accoding to Philippe Nanga, the principal objectives of the National Forum was to ignite the interest for more more freedom with the hope of making the media professionals to find reason in joining the campaign for the decriminalization of media offenses in Cameroon. 

He has extended gratitude to partner organisations amongst them United Nations Democracy Fund, Cameroon Journalists Trade Union Littoral Chapter Club Media Ouest for making the forum a success.