Is there evidence of regular, active public debate on issues of defence? If yes, does the government participate in this debate?
6a. Public debate
Cameroon score: 25/100
Outside government, there is no or extremely limited public debate among academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate also addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, debate often addresses issues superficially, rather than persisting through in-depth and regular discussion.
Outside government, there is occasional public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. However, when debate occurs, it addresses high priority issues with intensity and in-depth discussion.
Outside government, there is regular public debate among academics, journalists, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues. Debate persists on high priority issues over a period of time, rather than being superficially addressed.
Public debate about defence issues has increased with the advent of the Boko Haram conflict and the Anglophone Crisis  , despite frequent threats and reprisals from government forces and officials . Media houses carry on debates on defence-related issues although these are often superficial or in line with government policy (but also sometimes in defiance of the Government’s restrictive legal regime over the media). As an example of the superficial coverage, the national television channel has slots where military issues are discussed and debated but this is carried out under a strictly censored regime or if done by independent outlets it is self-censored in order to avoid reprisals . The Director of Communication at the Ministry of Defence has been on public and private media to discuss issues linked with the fight against Boko Haram. However, journalists from private media houses who tried to probe into security issues were charged with crimes on terrorisim based on the Anti-terrorism Law of December 2014  . For example, Almed Abba was arrested and questioned about the activities of Boko Haram while he was covering attacks by the militant group and the refugee issues. He was detained for seven months, tried for charges of terrorism and sentenced to ten years in prison .
Freedom House has also reported on the restrictive legal regime (such as police questioning, lawsuits and extrajudicial detention by the government) faced by the media and journalists reporting on sensitive subjects like the Boko Haram crisis and the Anglophone crisis . Other recent examples of the restrictive media environment and limitations on public discussion of security and defence-related issues in Cameroon include the following: “France 24 journalist Zigoto Tchaya was detained for a day by masked security officers while reporting on Anglophone protests in Bamenda; National Communication Council (CNC) banned three newspapers and sanctioned over 20 journalists, publishers, and outlets; blocked internet in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon; directives issued by the Cameroon authorities to private broadcasters to stop airing debates about demonstrators’ grievances when the Anglophone unrest started in 2016”. These are joined by threats to journalists, media outlets and mobile network providers in connection with coverage of the protest movement, or attempts to pay off journalists to report in favour of the government (as in the case of Moki Edwin Kindzeka, a journalist for Voice of America and the state-owned broadcaster, who was offered money in exchange for more favourable coverage of Paul Biya) .
1. Albert Samah and Gisela Achuo Nsen, “Civil Sector Relations and Fight Against Boko Haram: Rebuilding Trust in the Security Sector,” Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution, December, 2017.
2. “Cameroon 2017/2018”, Amnesty International, accessed March 24, 2019, https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/africa/cameroon/report-cameroon/.
3. “Freedom of the Press 2017 Cameroon Profile”, Freedom House, accessed March 22, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/cameroon.
4. “CPJ Annual Report 2017”, Committee to Protect Journalists, https://cpj.org/about/CPJ.2017.Annual.Report.pdf
6b. Government engagement in public discourse
Cameroon score: 25/100
There is no government engagement in public discourse about defence issues or official communications contain no meaningful information.
Where communication does occur, it is likely to be one-way: officials may provide some information but may not answer public questions.
The government engages in discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings. However this does not happen regularly, or may exclude very important issues that the government chooses to avoid.
The government engages in regular discussion with the public about defence issues through open forums, an active website, or at media briefings.
The government engages in regular debate with academia, opinion-formers, and CSOs about defence issues in collaborative ways. The government co-organises discussions with independent think tanks or civil society organisations, or through joint media briefings.
The Government of Cameroon engages with the public on issues of defence. The Minister of Communication usually holds press conferences and briefings on salient issues concerning defence in the country   . These press conferences and briefings, which are usually broadcast on national television, include journalists from private media houses. However, journalists from certain media houses (CRTV journalists and other media houses sympathetic to the government and the ruling political party, CPDM) are usually given preferential treatment when it comes to questions . The Minister of Communication’s press conferences are usually one-sided and in response to attacks that have been made by mostly international organisations against government abuses or excesses in executing defence or secuirty measures .
The Ministry of Defence also has a slot on the national radio station where military experts are brought on to discuss security issues but it is done under a strict censorship regime to give an overview of the current military challenges faced by Cameroon’s armed and security forces and to refute allegations made against the Government’s repressive and abusive measures. The Government does not engage in any meaningful debate with the public . The Director of Communication at the Ministry of Defence has appeared on public and private media to discuss issues linked with the fight against Boko Haram. However, journalists from private media houses who tried to probe security issues have been charged with crimes to do with terrorism based on the Anti-terrorism Law of December 2014. See explanation in 6A    .
1. Interview with a senior officer from the Ministry of Defence, Maroua, March 10, 2018.
2. Issa Tchiroma Bakary, “Cameroon: War Against Boko Haram – Government Refutes Amnesty International Torture Allegations”, 24 July 2017, http://allafrica.com/stories/201707240633.html
3. Roland Muma, “Minister: Cameroon Doesn’t Have Boko Haram Affiliate”, Face2face Africa, September 22, 2014, https://face2faceafrica.com/article/boko-haram-cameroon.
4. Evis Teke, “Cameroon’s Defence Forces on two major fronts in 2018”, CRTV, January 2018, http://www.crtv.cm/2018/01/cameroons-defence-forces-two-major-fronts-2018/.
5. “In Cameroon, Ahmed Abba sentenced to 10 years in jail”, Committee to Protect Journalists, April 24, 2017, https://cpj.org/2017/04/in-cameroon-ahmed-abba-sentenced-to-10-years-in-ja.php.
6. “CPJ Annual Report 2017”, Committee to Protect Journalists, https://cpj.org/about/CPJ.2017.Annual.Report.pdf.
7. “Freedom of the Press 2017 Cameroon Profile”, Freedom House, accessed March 24, 2019, https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2017/cameroon.
Compare scores by country
Please view this page on a larger screen for the full stats.
|Country||6a. Public debate||6b. Government engagement in public discourse|
|Albania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Algeria||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Angola||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Argentina||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Armenia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Australia||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Azerbaijan||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Bahrain||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Bangladesh||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Belgium||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Botswana||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Brazil||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Burkina Faso||50 / 100||0 / 100|
|Cameroon||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Canada||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Chile||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|China||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Colombia||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Cote d'Ivoire||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Denmark||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Egypt||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Estonia||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Finland||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|France||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Germany||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Ghana||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Greece||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Hungary||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|India||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Indonesia||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Iran||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Iraq||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Israel||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Italy||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Japan||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Jordan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kenya||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Kosovo||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Kuwait||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Latvia||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Lebanon||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Lithuania||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Malaysia||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Mali||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Mexico||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Montenegro||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Morocco||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Myanmar||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|Netherlands||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|New Zealand||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Niger||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Nigeria||50 / 100||25 / 100|
|North Macedonia||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Norway||75 / 100||100 / 100|
|Oman||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Palestine||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Philippines||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Poland||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Portugal||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Qatar||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Russia||100 / 100||25 / 100|
|Saudi Arabia||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Serbia||75 / 100||25 / 100|
|Singapore||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|South Africa||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|South Korea||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|South Sudan||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|Spain||50 / 100||50 / 100|
|Sudan||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Sweden||75 / 100||75 / 100|
|Switzerland||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|Taiwan||100 / 100||75 / 100|
|Tanzania||25 / 100||25 / 100|
|Thailand||0 / 100||25 / 100|
|Tunisia||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Turkey||25 / 100||50 / 100|
|Uganda||75 / 100||50 / 100|
|Ukraine||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|United Arab Emirates||0 / 100||0 / 100|
|United Kingdom||100 / 100||100 / 100|
|United States||100 / 100||50 / 100|
|Venezuela||25 / 100||0 / 100|
|Zimbabwe||100 / 100||0 / 100|