Due to Medias drifts, systematic misinformation and lynching of national and foreign personalities, the Mincom and Minpostel were in front of national and international Journalists on July 13th, 2020, with the President of National Communication Council Peter Esoka and the Director General of National Agency for Information and Communication Technologies (ANTIC). It was an other occasion for the government to keep on sensitysing Medias personals and those civil servants who easily make public informations that shoulb be confidential.
Please find below the entire statement of His Excellence Rene Emmanuel Sadi while opening the joint press conference
MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATION
MINISTÈRE DE LA COMMUNICATION
MEDIA DRIFTS, SYSTEMATIC MISINFORMATION AND
LYNCHING OF NATIONAL AND FOREIGN PERSONALITIES IN
JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
MINCOM – MINPOSTEL
H.E. RENE EMMANUEL SADI
MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION
YAOUNDE, JULY 13, 2020
Madam Minister of Posts and Telecommunications;
Mr President of the National Communication Council;
Mr Director General of the National Agency for Information and
Communication Technologies, ANTIC;
Distinguished Journalists and Managers of Media Outlets;
Distinguished Media Practitioners;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I would like to thank you for having so swiftly responded to my
invitation to take part in this press conference which I will be
jointly granting with Madam the Minister of Posts and
Madam Minister, I wish you a warm welcome here at the Ministry of
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Government communication will focus on the increasingly
recurrent media drifts within the national public space, and mostly,
on the observation of a propensity for systematic misinformation,
carried out by certain traditional media and through social media.
As a matter of fact, this Government communication was made
necessary as a result of certain recent current events marked by a
dizzyingly high propagation of untruths, more apparent and
inappropriate, with the very often aim to castigate the action of
public authorities and to blacken the reputation of leading
Cameroonian and foreign figures.
It should be noted that these untruths and other information
generally fabricated or deliberately biased, are likely to undermine
social cohesion and the living together of populations.
We note to deplore and denounce it that these misinformation
actions are mostly related to the most worrying and sensitive
issues of the moment.
I would like, without going into excessive details, to mention among
other issues, the case of the coronavirus pandemic, which our
country, like all other countries around the world, has been facing
for the past five months.
In this regard, many denigrators and other self-invested sermonizers
have, under various profiles, scoured all kinds of media, to
challenge and vilify the National Response Strategy against this
pandemic, implemented under the auspices of the Prime Minister,
Head of Government, and under the esteemed leadership of the
HEAD OF STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL BIYA.
Some of these misguided minds have thus attempted to question
the statistics published by the Ministry of Public Health on the state
of the pandemic, challenge the preventive measures prescribed by
the Government and recommended by the World Health
Organization, severely criticized the softening measures taken by
the Government in order to account for economic imperatives,
disputed without any valid argument the treatment protocol
adopted by health authorities, questioned the skills of health
personnel or organized real media crusades against the decision of
the HEAD OF STATE to resume classes and ensure the organization
of exams in primary, secondary and higher education.
However, today, that is to say five months after the start of the
implementation of Cameroon’s response to the coronavirus
pandemic, we can pride on the effectiveness of our response
strategy, mostly for the practice of massive testing within
communities and the decentralization of the management of
reported cases, the results of the therapy used in relation to the
number of people healed, the encouraging data recorded in terms of
prevention and sustained efforts towards greater awareness of the
dangerous nature of the pandemic and the need for all to get
involved if we want to curb it.
This manipulative and distorting frenzy is even more accentuated in
the media treatment of the security situation in the North-West and
In this regard, some have deliberately chosen to misrepresent the
facts, depending on the circumstances in which these occur, and
for hidden purposes.
Thus, systematically, unrepentant and totally dehumanized armed
gangs, assassins, looters and rapists are presented by certain
media players as innocent angels, alleged victims of the tyranny of
the Government and of our Defence and Security Forces.
In the same way, the numerous atrocities committed by the armed
bands in these regions are concealed, while the Cameroonian Army
which is legitimately engaged in a fight for the preservation of our
territorial integrity and the security of goods and people, is
constantly being conspired, demonized and stigmatized.
Furthermore, at a time when the HEAD OF STATE, building on his
high sense of foresight, began in a methodical, determined and
resolute manner, to bring solutions to the various recommendations
of the Major National Dialogue with a view to a return to normal life
in the North-West and South-West regions, certain media players
have constantly disseminated and published false allegations
harmful to societal cohesion.
At a time when the HEAD OF STATE has, to the satisfaction of the
entire national and international community, organized a Major
National Dialogue with a view to an irreversible return to normal life
in the crisis-hit regions, and the recommendations of this historic
forum are taking gradually taking shape through concrete acts,
some media players, who have made it a habit, are constantly
relativizing, and even denying these positive developments by
fanning the flames of fire time and time again with false allegations
which are highly harmful to the stability of the nation.
The Government through my voice avails itself of this occasion to
affirm, once again, that the offer of peace extended by the HEAD OF
STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL BIYA, to the secessionist rebel and
armed groups in the North-West and South-West Regions, to put an
end to the hostilities which they continue to maintain, is more than
As proof of this, the latest constantly evolving statistics, provided
by the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NDDRC)
Committee, which show 164 ex-secessionists who chose to go to
the NDDRC North-West regional centre in Bamenda, 130 to the
NDDRC South-West regional centre in Buea, to which we should add
186 ex-Boko Haram fighters including 44 on the same day last
week, at the Meri transit centre in the Far-North region, making a
total of 483 surrenders since the start of this operation.
From all indications, other such surrenders will continue in the days
It should be indicated that these repentants, be they ex-BokoHaram combatants or those who have laid down their arms in the
North-West and South-West Regions, receive upon their arrival in
the various host centres, medical care and appropriate
psychosocial support for their de-radicalization and moral
They also receive training in income-generating activities such as
agriculture, animal husbandry, driving, computer skills,
hairdressing, manicure, masonry, to name just a few.
This is a process, whose outcome is the integration of those
concerned back into normal life, in the short term and on a case-bycase basis.
In addition, during their stay in the centres, measures are taken to
shelter them as much as possible, away from COVID-19.
From the foregoing, we are well aware that, contrary to the
allegations made by certain circles and relayed by a fringe of media
players, the National Disarmament, Demobilization and
Reintegration Committee … NDDRC, are neither disguised prisons,
nor masked traps, made to attract members of armed groups, let
alone a branch of the Army where these ex-combatants would be
subjected to all kinds of abuses.
These centres are, on the contrary, places to host our young
compatriots who were once lost, but who, having become aware of
the need to turn their back from perdition, have chosen to comeback to the path of wisdom within the republican community, by
accepting the offer of peace and forgiveness made by the HEAD OF
STATE, HIS EXCELLENCY PAUL BIYA.
Faced with this misinformation campaign which spares no one, nor
any sector of national life, the Government calls for caution,
discernment and vigilance of the entire national community, so as
not to be caught in the macabre game of those who, behind the
scenes, are the masterminders of this heinous deception.
This vigilance is all the more imperative as, visibly, the privileged
targets of this destruction enterprise include the Rule of Law, the
Institutions of the Republic and those who embody them, with the
aim to jeopardize the peace and stability of Cameroon.
In this context, some clarifications may be necessary, especially
considering press freedom and the use of social media.
With regard to press freedom which the Cameroonian citizen fully
enjoys today, I want to point out that nowhere it the world has
press freedom been equated with libertinism or pretext for disorder,
cacophony or anarchy. This means that the vocation of press
freedom, which is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy and
the Rule of Law, cannot be used to build areas of lawlessness and
disintegration of the social fabric.
It has always been so throughout the world, since the emergence of
freedom societies, of which the Declaration of the Rights of Man
and of the Citizen of 1789 marks the impulse by stipulating, in its
article 11 that “the free communication of thought, and of opinion,
is one of the most precious rights of man. Every citizen, therefore,
may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments, but shall be
responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by
Similarly, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
adopted in New York on 16 December 1966 stipulates in Article 19,
paragraph 2 that “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression;
this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either
orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other
media of his choice.” The same instrument goes further to specify
in paragraph 3 of the same article that the exercise of these
freedoms “carries with it special duties and responsibilities.
Consequently, they may be subject to certain restrictions which
shall, however, be such as are provided by law and are necessary
for respect of the rights and reputations of others and for the
protection of national security or of public order, or of public health
In this light, press freedom, which is a public freedom, in as much
as it is exercised in the public space and puts the different
individual freedoms in competition and in a situation of reciprocal
preservation, can only exist if it takes into account its
consequential imperatives, which are social responsibility, respect
for societal values and respect for the Rule of law as an expression
of the general and impersonal will.
In other words, if there is no democracy without press freedom,
there is also no press freedom without social responsibility, without
preservation of the freedoms of others, without respect for societal
values and compliance with applicable law.
In Cameroon, press freedom is guaranteed and organized by the
Law of 19 December 1990 on social communication, amended and
supplemented by the Law of 4 January 1996 repealing
administrative censorship of press organs.
This entire body of laws enshrines a genuine field of freedoms for
the expression of ideas and opinions through all media operating in
one way or another on the national territory. The legal environment
thus created, by the will of the Head of State, establishes a system
of freedoms which in turn requires that each media actor and, in
general, all those who choose to express themselves in the public
arena through the media, must not only comply with the
professional rules of ethics governing the exercise of this
profession, but also bow to the primacy of the fundamental values
that prevail within the Republic.
Moreover, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that, for a
country as young as ours, progress towards a society of freedoms
has been following an upward trend, with a particularly remarkable
rate of acceleration.
As far as the media sector is concerned, to take just this example,
creating a simple newspaper for a person other than the State was,
30 years back, a hard nut to crack; and such an undertaking was
even more difficult, if not impossible, in the case of radio or
In terms of content, a simple critical remark directed against a
public institution or official could lead to all kinds of trouble for the
author or their employer, which could go as far as deprivation of
liberty or cessation of activity, depending on the nature of the case.
You will agree with me that all this is a distant memory today.
The results of the reforms undertaken in this sector since the end of
the 1990s need no further explanation.
To date, there are about 600 print media outlets registered with the
competent authorities, including more than ten daily newspapers.
There are over 200 radio broadcast stations of all categories
(commercial, denominational, thematic, community radio stations,
etc.), some 30 television channels, 200 cable distribution operators,
not to mention the many online media.
Having made this observation, it is now up to the media
professionals, henceforth equipped with these tools of freedom, to
ensure that these are harnessed to the best for the entire
Cameroonian society and for the image of Cameroon that is
perceived by the foreign world.
To do so, they must always bear in mind that they hold in their
hands strategic instruments for the life of the nation. That is why
we constantly appeal to their professionalism, responsibility and
citizenship in the exercise of their profession.
The reason is that the misuse of this freedom can, against all odds,
become perilous for the equilibrium of the nation.
If badly exploited, abused and thwarted, as we have been so
desperate to see in our country in recent times, the use of this
freedom can just as easily deconstruct or even destroy.
It is therefore not an instrument to be trifled with, but one that
should be understood to the full extent of its sensitive and strategic
Our press must therefore look in the mirror if it does not want to run
the risk of missing out on the challenge of building the stable and
prosperous Cameroon that it itself so badly needs, at least as much
as the entire Cameroonian people.
On the subject of the pernicious use of social media that have
become veritable deviant and bewildering catch-alls, we must
unfortunately face the fact that they have been regrettably diverted
from the objectives originally assigned to them.
In the context of the media trend that we have just described in
relation to traditional media, social media are even more
distinguished by their preponderant inclination to disseminate and
share Fake News, personal attacks and other open vendettas,
infringements of privacy, failure to respect the secrecy of
correspondence, whether public or private, unjustified unwarranted
attacks on the lives of others and, in general, violation of the basic
rules necessary for a healthy and tolerant social life.
Such a shift places the use of social media at odds with their
primary mission, that of a community dialogue as constructive as
edifying, allowing virtual social interactions without geographical
limits, thanks to the virtues of digital technologies, even in
situations of mobility.
Social media were therefore not created to destroy the order and
values of the world, but rather to build, strengthen and use them for
the development of humankind and society.
Yet it is the opposite that we see in the Cameroonian context
today, where the appropriation of social networks by many actors
out of nowhere, blithely turning into improvised journalists,
transforms these genuine communication spaces into veritable
grabbing fairs, where only the distortion of facts, the mutations of
vices into false values, hate speech, personal attacks, false
allegations and ungrounded assertions are the rule.
This whole of this is, as can easily be seen, likely to lead to the
destruction of community values and the implosion of collapse of
Here again, the Government of the Republic denounces this trend
that is harmful to the construction of the social model to which all
Cameroonians are entitled to aspire, but which over the days and in
a pernicious manner, is taking root in the media customs of our
The Government therefore calls on everyone to become aware of
the need to refocus on the initial ideals of these formidable
communication tools, which have been made accessible to all and
democratized thanks to the expansion of the Internet, and strongly
condemns the growing deviations in the use of these networks.
In any case, journalism, true and good journalism, must remain
noble par excellence.
The journalist is neither an adventurer, nor a hired gunman, nor a
factotum serving shameful and harmful ideologies.
Journalists must remain historians of the present, whose only
raw material is the factual nature of their treatment of current
events and the situations that surround them, always with a
scrupulous consideration of the imperatives on which society is
based and the values that structure their community.
To those media professionals who have chosen to
this noble idea of journalism, the Government has been
supporting and will continue to support them in the exercise of
To others who, out of ignorance or naivety, still allow themselves
to get sucked by the torments of professional denial, the
Government launches an urgent appeal for a burst of
responsibility and refocusing on the vocation of this profession
and its universal canons.
In any case, all of them must know that it is up to them and to
them first, to rewrite the letters of nobility of their profession and
to put all their energies into making them once again what they
should never have ceased to be, namely, a compass of the
aspirations and the fulfilment of peoples.
In other words, for the sake of the kind of journalism that we
earnestly desire, we need to see things as they are, not as we
think they are, or as we want them to be.
Thank you for your kind attention.
THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATION
(Signed) René Emmanuel SAD