After Charles Atangana has been arrested last year, he remains on bail conditions, still fearing deportation.However, the bail conditions have been relaxed thanks to the effort of support campaigns such as by the National Union of Journalists.
The court case for Charles has been set for 15 February 2011. It will be accompanied by a demonstration in front of the High Court in London.
In my previous post about this issue everybody was invited to vote in a poll. The question was whether deportation is a human rights violation. Of all people taking part nobody thought that we have already too many immigrants in the UK. 50% of the voters said that everybody should have the right to live where she/he wants. Another 50% voted that it has to be looked at case by case.
Jonathan, a reader of the 4thPillar commented: “I think that the UK is quite liberal compared to other countries (although I may be wrong) on issues with immigration. It seems impossible, and also unfair, to apply blanket regulations.”
A research by the British Council (2007) ranked the UK in Europe’s top 5 most welcoming countries for immigrants. The report said it offered the fifth most favourable policies for allowing foreigners long-term residence. However, concerning integration policy it was ranked 15.
As always with statistics, it depends on what figures you are looking at. A poll published by the German-Marshal Fund thinktank (2009) gives a different impression. The survey says that two out of three Britons, more than in all the other countries surveyed, thought immigration was more of a problem than an opportunity.
The UK also was the only surveyed country where the majority (54%) agreed with the statement that immigrants are taking jobs away from the native born. Interesting as well is that British people believed the number of immigrants in the country was almost triple the actual level (27% compared with 10%).
No doubt immigration is an increasingly important and sensitive issue. It is affecting many human rights issues and ultimately also freedom of press.
I think this is a good occasion to remember the first article of the human rights declaration:
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
You can take action and join an online petition to help preventing Charles from deportation.
Read more: The Guardian “A journalist in danger”
Investigative journalist Charles Atangana fears to be sent back to Cameroon.
The fear of a deportation is undeniable. ”For me going back to Cameroon is a death sentence”, he said in an interview with The Herald.
In his last court appearance at 07/10/2010 his case was adjourned. He now is on bail and has to stay in different hostels for immigrants in London.
Charles Atangana is a respected investigative journalist. He exposed corruption within the government in Cameroon.
After the publication members of his family were arrested and tortured. Atangana also faced torture, being stripped, bullied and beaten. A sad reality for dissidents in a country with an extremely narrowed freedom of press.
Atangana saw no other way than to leave the country. In 2004 he fled from Cameroon with a fake passport. He managed to get to Glasgow, where he was living for six years.
In Glasgow, Charles Atangana integrated well to his new environment. He became a member of the National Union of Journalists(NUJ) and started to work as a volunteer for the Citizen Advice Bureau in Parkhead.
“We would fight tooth and nails to keep him in this country”
The NUJ immediately intervened when they learned about his arrest. Paul Holleran of the NUJ branch in Glasgow explains: ”I managed to send texts to him, telling we would fight tooth and nails to keep him in this country. We are campaigning, trying to keep him on a permanent basis.”
The efforts of the NUJ played a key role in his support and have been quite successful. Atangana is still in the country, with improved bail conditions. The NUJ provided evidences and witnesses for the case, highlighting the serious danger for critical journalists in Cameroon.
First the judges were denying a life-threatening scenario, but now the new evidence is taken into consideration. ”The level of political support has been quite phenomenal,” says Paul Holleran, ”that means that they are looking at the case in more depth, than they probably would normally.”
Case is not an exception
s case is not an exception in Cameroon. The authorities are keen to keep the status quo, even with force, against any form of dissidence.
A deportation of Charles Atangana would cause an outcry of journalists and human rights organisations. It is not only a question of the value of the democracy and press freedom in Cameroon, but also of our own democracy and our values of human rights.
Find out more! Here you can listen to an interview excerpt with Paul Holleran from the NUJ.
What do YOU think?