ACT NOW: defend Cameroonian journalist from deportation

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Solidarity with Cameroon trade unionist

Freedom of expression

31 July 2010

Charles Atangana is a Cameroonian journalist who fled the country in 2004 after his life was threatened because of articles he had written which were critical of the authorities. For the last six years he has been an NUJ member in Glasgow. Details of the campaign are on the TUC Amnesty blog, and here is TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber's letter to Home Secretary Theresa May.

The campaign to get Charles asylum will continue with a protest in Glasgow on Monday, organised by the NUJ. Rumours on Friday evening that he had been reprieved were premature, so please take action NOW.

If you are in Glasgow on Monday, please join the protest organised by the NUJ. If you are not, please send messages to Theresa May, Home Secretary, at 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF (fax +44 20 8760 3132) appealing to her not to enforce the deportation order. Charles' Home Office reference number is A1227296.

Also, contact your local MP, MSP or Member of the European Parliament to demand they intervene urgently and call on the Home Secretary not to enforce the removal order until there is a full Judicial Review of Charles Atangana's case.

Dear Theresa

Forced removal of Charles Atangana

The International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists have alerted me to the imminent deportation from the UK of Cameroonian journalist Charles Atangana on Monday 2 August, and I would urge you to intervene urgently to stop this happening on humanitarian grounds.

According to his colleagues, Mr Atangana claimed asylum in the UK in 2004 and lived in Scotland while his case was being processed. After waiting for almost 18 months for a decision, he received a refusal letter after which he was forcibly removed from Glasgow by the UK Border Agency and transferred to Colnwood detention center.

Mr Atangana, a brave journalist, had to flee the Cameroon after he was set upon by President Biya's security forces, arrested, strip naked, beaten up and detained for forty days. He succeeded in fleeing to the UK where he claimed asylum.

While in Scotland, Mr Atangana gave a lot of his time as a volunteer for the Parkhead Citizen's Advice Bureau for over three years, and played a major role helping people less fortunate than him in one of the most deprived parts of Glasgow.

The TUC is well aware, as I am sure your officials and the FCO are, of the dreadful ordeal of journalists in Cameroon, considered one of the worst countries for journalists in the world.

In recent months the International Federation of Journalists has made numerous appeals to President Biya urging him to put an end to the harassment and abuse of scores of journalists in Cameroon. We have been informed that his administration routinely uses security forces and criminal laws to settle scores with the media. As a result, the number of arbitrary arrests and criminal prosecutions of journalists, and even allegations of torture of journalists has soared, raising critical questions about the rule of law and democracy in the Cameroon.

We strongly believe that the life of Mr Atangana will be seriously at risk were he to be deported back to the Cameroon. Last April, newspaper editor Germain S. Ngota Ngota died in the notorious Kondengui prison in the capital, Yaoundé. He has been detained since February with three of his colleagues because they were investigating corruption allegations involving top presidential aides.

We believe that Mr Atangana should be released and allowed to stay indefinitely in safety in Scotland.

Yours sincerely


General Secretary

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