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27 January 2023

Statement – Cameroon: Killing of human rights defender and journalist Martinez Zogo

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the murder of human rights defender and journalist Martinez Zogo. His murder occurred within a context of impunity and systematic human rights violations towards human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers in Cameroon.

Martinez Zogo was a human rights defender, journalist, and head of the radio Amplitude FM. He made several media appearances to denounce the embezzlement of funds related to lines 94, 65 of the Cameroonian State budget. The murder of human rights defender Martinez Zogo is the latest in a series of targeted attacks against journalists and human rights defenders of journalists in Cameroon.

On the evening of 17 January 2023, human rights defender and journalist Martinez Zogo was abducted by unknown men. His body was found on the morning of 22 January 2023, in Yaounde, the capital city.

Nine months previously, on the night of 9 to 10 March 2022, human rights defender Paul Chouta was abducted by three unidentified men while watching a football game in Yaounde. He was forced into a vehicle and taken to the highway that leads to the international airport in Yaounde. He was subjected to physical abuse which may amount to torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The human rights defender was later abandoned at the scene at around one o’clock in the morning and immediately went to the hospital where he received medical treatment for the injuries he sustained. Paul Chouta is known for his work on economic and social rights, such as labour and health rights, as well as advocating against social injustice in Cameroon.

In 2020, the Cameroonian government finally recognized the death of Samuel Wazizi, a journalist and human rights defender from the English-speaking region of Cameroon, who died while in detention, after being held incommunicado for 10 months. His body was not returned to his family for the funeral. Samuel Wazizi was a photo journalist and the presenter of a program at Chillen Music Television (CMTV), a private English-speaking regional channel in the city of Buea, located in the South West region of Cameroon. He denounced the management of the crisis in the Anglophone region in Cameroon which has been going on since 2016.

Front Line Defenders strongly condemns the murder of human rights defender Martinez Zogo and the systematic targeting of d issenting voices in Cameroon. Front Line Defenders calls on the Cameroonian authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the murders of journalists Martinez Zogo and Samuel Wazizi, to publish the results and bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards. It urges the authorities to investigate the attacks and arbitrary detention of other human rights defenders and ensure that human rights defenders in Cameroon are free to exercise their fundamental rights granted by the Constitution.