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Activists urge: Shut down TV station for attack on journalist accused of homosexuality

Human rights advocates in Cameroon have urged the Ministry of Communication to intervene in the case of J. Rémy Ngono, a popular Cameroonian journalist accused of homosexuality.

Program on Vision 4 associated the face of journalist J. Rémy Ngono with the face of “homo erectus” from the Stone Age. (Screen shot from Vision 4 program)

In a public statement, the Cameroon-based non-governmental organization Mandela Center International (MCI) demanded that Vision 4 television reporter Raoul Christophe Bia be fired because of his caustic report about Ngono from the village of Ekoumdoum.

J. Rémy Ngono (Photo courtesy of L’Express)

MCI stated that Vision 4 should be suspended for airing the Bia report and for many “disgraceful” programs, including an earlier call for the extermination of the English-speaking population of south-west and north-west Cameroon.

MCI compared Vision 4’s programs to Mille Collines radio‘s anti-Tutsi broadcasts in Rwanda that helped provoke the Tutsi genocide of 1994.

For his report about Ngono, Bia went to Ekomdoum and interviewed “Mr. Ngono’s imaginary uncles, who questioned his sexual orientation” and compared him to a monkey, MCI said. Several residents complained that Ngono had abandoned his native village.

Front page of Cameroon’s L’Indépendant newspaper, April 14, 2021.

Ngono, who currently lives in France, is a regular commentator on Radio Foot Internationale. Last week he was targeted by the newspaper L’Indépendant for alleged homosexuality. The lead story on the newspaper’s April 14 front page was headlined “Homosexuality: The Double Life of J. Rémy Ngono.” The article claimed that Ngono had recently undergone an anal operation and been told to refrain from anal sex for a year.

MCI accused Bia of producing a “shocking and revolting report” by “trampling on all the elementary principles of journalism”. Bia was “deliberately chosen by the television station for this dirty job”. The television report was “filthy, revolting, shocking, despicable and contrary to the values of journalism”, MCI stated.

MCI cited “the Code of Ethics of Journalists which clearly stipulates that: ‘The journalist exercises great vigilance in the face of what could provoke tribalist, racist, sexist, homophobic reactions, etc.’ ”

Vision 4 continually tramples on fundamental rights guaranteed by the Cameroonian constitution, Cameroonian laws, international treaties and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, MCI stated.

Bia should be fired and Vision 4 should be suspended, MCI stated. The government of Cameroon should “take the necessary steps to prevent and punish violations of these rights”, MCI stated. Action is needed from the Ministry of Communication; the National Council of Communication (CNC); the Union of the French-speaking Press (UPF-Cameroon), the Union of Journalists of Cameroon (UJC), the Cameroon Media Council (CCM), and local journalism associations, MCI stated.