Freedom of expression is enshrined in the laws of the state and Cameroon has ratified international, continental and regional treaties, conventions and agreements that have become laws after publication.
The trend of press freedom in Cameroon has evolved as compared to the era before the nineties. Today, the freedom of expression, the Cameroon media landscape and broadcasting regulations have improved but for some media practitioners who don’t respect the ethics and deontology of the media profession.
Like any other sector, the media profession has its ethics and deontology that requires that all practitioners should acquire a certain professional standard before exercising the profession; such as the principle of accuracy, fairness and integrity when reporting. However this is not the case, for despite the fact that press freedom is in progress in Cameroon, there exist some irresponsible journalism practices which recommends personal discipline, in-house media control from the heads of newsroom.
That’s not all, it’s a requisite that each press organ which operates on the landscape is bound to meet up with the needed procedure in setting up a media organ. Unfortunately, this is not the case as a handful of them have long operated illegally under the watchful eyes of administrative tolerance.
Cameroon is a signatory to many international, continental and regional human rights, treaties and agreements which have been ratified and now acts as national laws following their publication. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Windhock Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press are some of the legal tools that obliges Cameroon to abide to the declarations of freedom of expression. At the national stage, the substantive piece of legislation regulating the operation of the media in Cameroon is law Number 90/52 of 19 December 1990 on freedom of Mass Communication. The enactment of the 1990 law favored investment in the sector that resulted in a boom and this ignited the creation of the National Communication Council (NCC). The NCC is playing a prominent role in regulating the communication sector by seeing to it that media organs meet the compulsory requirements and exercise the profession while respecting ethics and deontology. Those who have not been able to toe the line saw their organs suspended. The NCC which is part of government structure, is bent to ensure that the media remains an imperative tool for the growth of Cameroon democracy.
Freedom of expression is also rooted in the preamble of the 1996 Cameroon constitution. It guarantees freedom of expression and of the press as a basic freedom. Reasons why citizens including journalists are asserting their rights without fear.