Clooney Foundation for Justice and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Condemn Conviction of Cameroonian Journalist
Today, after having already spent nearly two years in detention prior to and during trial, Cameroonian journalist Paul Chouta was convicted of defamation, use of insulting language, and false reporting, and sentenced to time served and a significant fine. The Clooney Foundation for Justice and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP condemn this result, which violates Mr. Chouta’s right to freedom of expression. While we welcome the prospect of Mr. Chouta’s release, he should not be required to raise funds in order to secure his release, and he has already suffered significant harm due to his prolonged detention.
CFJ and Debevoise & Plimpton LLP previously filed a communication with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on Mr. Chouta’s behalf arguing that his detention was an unlawful and disproportionate response to the speech at issue in this case. Nothing about his trial, which was monitored by CFJ’s partner the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights as part of CFJ’s TrialWatch initiative, changes this analysis. Instead of convicting him, the court should have dismissed the charges and he should have been provided with appropriate reparations.