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AfricaWeb journalist abducted, beaten to a pulp in Cameroon

Paul Chouta, AfricaWeb .jpeg Paul Chouta is seen here bleeding from having been beaten to pulp

Thu, 10 Mar 2022 Source:

Unknown men abduct journalist

Find the perpetrators of this attack - Cameroonian urges authorities

Paul Chouta fighting for his life after attack

AfricaWeb journalist working for CamerounWeb, Paul Chouta, is fighting for his life in a hospital after he was abducted in Yaounde by unknown men who bundled him up behind a pick-up truck and drove him to the outskirts of the Cameroonian capital.

Paul Chouta was kidnapped on the night of Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in the Damascus district of Yaoundé by men in vehicles and taken to a locality in Yaoundé located on the Nsimalen-Yaoundé Highway where they stripped him naked and physically attacked him till he fell unconscious.

Paul Chouta was found naked by a woman a few hours later and in a pool of his own blood with sustained injuries, reports GhanaWeb’s sister platform,

"He was abducted at Damascus Roundabout by unknown men (4 people) and forced into a car. They drove him to the Yaoundé-Nsimalen new highway. In the car, they told him that they were going to kill him. Arriving on the highway, they started beating him up by hitting his head with stones until he fell," a source very close to the victim narrated.

Following the news going viral on social media, a journalist by name Zephirin Koloko has called for an investigation into the case to identify those responsible for the despicable act.

"The aggression on Paul Chouta by individuals visibly on a mission is unacceptable in a democratic state. Differences of opinions is the bedrock of democracy. Wanting to take the life of a journalist for his opinion is not sustainable.

"I ask that an investigation be opened by the competent authorities to find out what really happened and that the perpetrators of this barbarity be tracked down," he added.

Paul Chouta is currently battling for his life at an undisclosed hospital in the capital pending an official report to the police.

Paul Chouta is not new to attacks in Cameroon where he has been jailed for two years without trial for doing his work as a journalist. He is a vocal critic of Cameroon’s president Paul Biya and his reports covered topics such as the arrest of former Cameroonian government officials and allegations of abuse by police and pro-government journalists.

During his 4-year work with CamerounWeb, Chouta has published over 500 highly confidential official documents related to corruption, crimes and money laundering by government official and high ranking army officers.

Read a statement on his assault by CamerounWeb below:


Paul Chouta was jailed in May 2019 and held in pretrial detention for more than a year, after which his trial began but was repeatedly delayed. He was charged with criminal defamation and false news following a defamation complaint by French-Cameroonian writer Calixthe Beyala.

Chouta covers politics, corruption, local news, and human rights for independent news website

On May 28, 2019, in the Cameroonian capital of Yaoundé, five police officers in plainclothes arrested Chouta in response to the complaint by Beyala.

In several posts on Beyala’s personal Facebook page on June 2019 which were later deleted or set to private, Beyala alleged that Chouta and other unspecified individuals made defamatory allegations about her personal life on social media.

Chouta received repeated anonymous threats in the months leading up to his arrest, and was attacked outside his home in February 2019 by suspected government agents at the time.

After his arrest, he was first brought to the Court of First Instance in Yaoundé on June 3, 2019, and returned on June 10, when he was formally charged. He was initially transferred to the Kondengui Central Prison to await trial, but was then moved to the Principal Prison on July 26, 2019, after a prison mutiny three days earlier.

Chouta appeared in court before a judge on June 11, 2019, and on July 12 he pleaded guilty to the charges of false news and criminal defamation. However, Beyala was not present and the matter was postponed to August 13; the case was postponed yet again to September 10 at the request of the complainant’s lawyer, who reported to be ill.

On September 10, the judge decided to join Chouta’s case with that of Mispa Ngo Hegam, the founder of the Angels of Paradise School in Douala, whom Beyala had also accused of defaming her. Chouta was accused of being Ngo’s accomplice, although the journalist said he did not know the woman.

The trial was set to begin on October 8, 2019, but the case was later transferred to an appeals court after Ngo’s lawyer appealed the joining of the two cases. That appeal was dismissed on April 27, 2020.

After the appeal was dismissed, Chouta and his co-accused were heard at the Yaoundé Court of First Instance on June 10, 2020. From that date through to October 1, the court sat eight times, but the trial judge changed on August 26, and again on October 1, starting the trial afresh each time.

A letter dated October 12, 2020, from Chouta’s lawyer, Henri Kouokam, to the president of the court of appeals, objected to the repeated delays and said they were prejudicial to the journalist’s right to a fair and speedy trial. It suggested that the delays were politically motivated.

Chouta’s trial was again set for November 5, but was then postponed to November 17; on that day, Beyala’s lawyer requested a postponement to January 3, 2021, which the court granted.

In November, the Clooney Foundation, through its Trial Watch programme and the law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, petitioned the U.N. Working Group on arbitrary detention about Chouta’s prolonged pretrial detention. The petition was emphatic that his detention was disproportionate and unnecessary, deprived Chouta of his right of freedom of expression, and failed to respect procedural norms governing pretrial detention and a defendant’s right to a fair trial.

That petition followed a report published on June 17, 2020, by the American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights, which monitored Chouta’s case as part of the Trial Watch programme. It also agreed that he was a subject of arbitrary detention. One of Chouta’s defence lawyers, Ndjodo Crépin, also agreed that the case had been subject to undue delays.

A verdict was finally issued on May 19, 2021, after being postponed 27 times. The judge sentenced Paul Chouta to 23 months in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 160,000 CFA francs and a further 2 million CFA francs in damages (a total of some 3,200 euros). The fines were paid and he was released based on time served in prison.

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