A second Cameroonian journalist, Jean-Jacques Ola Bébé, who was also a priest of the Orthodox Church of Cameroon, was found dead on 2 February near his home in the Mimboman neighbourhood of the capital Yaoundé, apparently shot by unknown assailants, the UN said on 7 February.
This new murder comes eleven days after that of Arsène Salomon Mbami Zogo, better known as Martinez Zogo, a renowned journalist and director of the private station Amplitude FM, who was found dead five days after being abducted in front of a gendarmerie post in the Cameroonian capital.
According to local media, the wife of the deceased Myriame Ola told her on the evening of 1 February that she was being followed by unknown individuals and that he should leave the house for a while. However, the executioners would not have wasted much time. Because very early in the morning of 2 February, the irreparable was committed.
According to the spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office in Nairobi, Seif Magango, “Both Ola Bebe and Martinez Zogo were outspoken voices against corruption, using their radio platforms to expose cases of alleged misuse of public funds. In recent weeks, Ola Bebe has been the first to call for justice and accountability for the murder of Martinez Zogo, his close associate.
The UN agency also said it was “deeply concerned” about the safety of journalists in the country. According to Seif Magango, “at least three other Cameroonian journalists reported in January that they had received serious threats from unidentified persons”.
“The Cameroonian authorities must take all necessary measures to create an environment conducive to the work of journalists without fear of reprisals, and to uphold the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by international human rights law, and also enshrined in the Constitution of Cameroon,” he added.
Since the murder of Martinez Zogo, an investigation has been opened and has led to the arrest of several personalities close to the government of Paul Biya. In response to this latest crime, the UN calls on the Cameroonian authorities “to ensure that the murder of Ola Bebe is also independently, effectively and impartially investigated and that those responsible for these killings, at all levels, are held accountable.
A free, independent and diverse press is essential for citizens to be informed and able to hold public institutions to account,” the institution concluded.
In 2022, the press freedom index established by the NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF) placed Cameroon 118th out of 180 countries. The NGO had also denounced the daily danger faced by Cameroonian journalists, “exposed to verbal and physical attacks, arrests, SLAPP procedures and risks of assassination”.