HRW calls for an ‘independent’ investigation

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Libreville (AFP) – The international NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Friday asked the Cameroonian authorities to carry out an “independent” and “transparent” investigation into the murder of Martinez Zogo, a popular journalist kidnapped and then found dead on Sunday with a mutilated body.

He was the general manager of the private radio station Amplitude FM, based in Yaoundé, and the star host of a daily program, Embouteillage, in which he regularly denounced racketeering and corruption in this Central African country run by an iron fist for more than 40 years by the same man, Paul Biya, and his all-powerful party.

Abducted on January 17 by unknown persons in the suburbs of the capital in front of a gendarmerie post, Arsène Salomon Mbani Zogo, known as “Martinez”, 50, was found dead five days later. “His body has obviously suffered significant abuse,” the government announced.

“Martinez Zogo was a journalist who took great risks to expose the truth about corruption,” said Lewis Mudge, director for Central Africa at HRW, in a statement. “His heinous murder sends a chilling message to all other journalists in Cameroon. The Cameroonian authorities should carry out a prompt and impartial investigation so that Zogo’s killers can be brought to justice,” he continues.

On the air, this journalist did not hesitate to question by name important personalities, from the political world as well as from business.

The government announced “investigations to find and bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime” and assured that “Cameroon is a State of law where freedoms are guaranteed, including freedom of the press”.

On March 9, 2022, Paul Chouta, a reporter for the private online media Cameroon Web, a critic of power, was kidnapped by several men and violently attacked before being left for dead on the side of the road.

In August 2019, journalist Samuel Wazizi of the private television channel Chillen Muzik and TV (CMTV) died in detention ten months after being arrested in Buea, in the west, where he was covering a bloody conflict between the forces of the order and English-speaking armed separatist groups as well as corruption cases.

People light candles in front of a portrait of the murdered journalist Martinez Zogo, on January 23, 2023 in Yaoundé, Cameroon © Daniel Beloumou Olomo / AFP/Archives

The government had been slow to publicly admit his death in prison but claimed he succumbed to a widespread infection.

The international NGO Reporter without Borders (RSF) had ensured that it had consulted photos on which Mr. Wazizi presented numerous injuries on different parts of the body.

According to the latest RSF ranking on freedom of the press, Cameroon occupies 118th place out of 180 countries.

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