A report by VOA’s Moki Edwin Kindzeka about allegations of police abuse against disabled citizens in Cameroon has garnered an unusual acknowledgement from Cameroon’s National Human Rights Commission, which is now calling for local police forces to stop the maltreatment of the blind and members of the disabled community.
A weeklong protest by hundreds of blind people in Cameroon, which included demands for an end to job discrimination, ended on July 1, 2022, when police abused and forcibly removed them, in some cases as far as 30 kilometers outside the capital city of Yaoundé.
Kindeza reports, “police destroyed their white canes, tore dresses, and arrested and detained blind persons for up to six hours… bundled them in buses, dumped blind persons outside of the capital Yaoundé, and told the sightless people to find their way back home.”
After Kindeza’s story was published, Cameroon’s Police Chief Martin Mbarga Nguelle ordered his force to be kind towards blind persons and to pay special attention when sightless persons ask for help. In addition, Cameroon’s Minister of Social Affairs Pauline Irene Nguene announced special economic assistance measures for blind persons.
“Cameroon is one of Africa’s most dangerous countries for journalists,” explained Acting VOA Director Yolanda López. “When we see VOA’s work triggering a significant policy change in the country, it’s a reaffirmation that our reporting has impact. Despite the risk to our journalists in Cameroon, our work matters.”