The Cameroon government has promised sanctions for irresponsible users of social media networks found guilty of posting faulty information.
The Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Minette Liboum Li Likeng made the pronouncement during a joint press conference with her counterpart of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi.
The joint press conference of July 13, 2020, at the auditorium of the Ministry of Communication in Yaoundé, was organized to shed light on media drifts, systematic misinformation and lynching of national and foreign personalities in
the public space.
Declaration of Minister of Post and Telecommunications
The Post and Telecommunications Minister told media professionals that the government will take all its responsibilities in the face of menaces from cyber criminals.
She noted that techniques and digital tools allows Cameroon to collect an number of evidence in view of identifying all electronic communication.
“It’s a choice to intensify sensitisation but we are able to track down whoever has carried out a punishable act on social media.” She said adding sanctions will also be given for unintentional publication.
“Let’s all retain that any erroneous information published on social media unconsciously or intentionally on social media can affect an entire life or an entire nations.
The Minister pinpointed that today’s technology allows tracking of information even after it has been deleted.
“What is put online stays online even after it has been deleted by the user.”
The press conference was also occasions to once again sensitise users.
“The social media network constitutes an extraordinary communication instrument but it has to be used in a responsible manner. In this light every actor has to fully play their role.
The Joint press conference was given at a time when internet access in Cameroon has increased from 4.5% in 2010 to 30% according to ANTIC.
Declaration of Minister of Communication
The Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi on his part focused on the increasingly recurrent media drifts within the national public space, and the observation of a propensity for systematic misinformation, carried out by some traditional media and through social networks.
He made allusion to the propagation of untruths and inappropriate information that undermine social cohesion and the living together of populations, often intended to castigate the action of public authorities and to blacken the reputation of leading Cameroonian and foreign figures.
He deplored and denounced the misinformation actions especially on sensitive issues like the case of the coronavirus pandemic, which the world has been facing for the past five months.
In this regard, he said, 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, Paul Biya.
Some have also 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 and severely criticized softening measures taken by the Government and organized real media crusades against the decision of the Head of States to resume classes and ensure the organization of exams in primary, secondary and higher education.
Minister noted emphatically that, 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 to curb it.
North West / South West
The Minister indicated that the manipulative frenzy is more accentuated in the media treatment of the security situation in the North-West and
South-West Regions where there is deliberate misrepresentation of
facts, depending on the circumstances in which they occur, and for hidden purposes.
He said unrepentant and 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 while the numerous atrocities committed by the armed bands in these regions are concealed.
He said the Head of State, has begun in a methodical, determined and resolute manner, to bring solutions through 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.
He condemned the dissemination and publication of false allegations harmful to societal cohesion.
He said, “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, H.E. Paul Biya, to the secessionist rebel and armed groups in the North-West and South-West Regions, to put an end to the hostilities.
He said statistics, provided by the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (NDDRC) Committee, show that 164 ex-secessionists are now hosted at the NDDRC North-West regional centre in Bamenda while 130 are at the NDDRC South-West regional centre in Buea in addition to 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.
He noted Cameroon upholds the values of human rights and every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law