Australia denies Cameroonian journalist visa for press freedom conference over fears she might seek asylum

Mohammed Awal Oct 25, 2019 at 04:00pm

October 25, 2019 at 04:00 pm | News

Mohammed Awal

Mohammed Awal

October 25, 2019 at 04:00 pm | News

Australia has refused a Cameroonian journalist, who was to speak at a press freedom conference in Brisbane, visa because they assumed, she would try to stay.

Mimi Mefo, who currently works for Deutsche Welle, was billed to deliver a keynote address at the Integrity 20 conference Friday.

The award-winning journalist tried twice to secure the necessary paper works, but she was refused.

Mefo was denied visa because the Australian immigration authorities “were not satisfied that the applicant’s employment and financial situation provide an incentive to return”, Integrity 20 said.

Mefo won the 2019 Index on Censorship freedom of expression award.

Speaking to SBS, the investigative reporter said she “expected more” from the Australian government, adding the decision to ban her gave authoritative governments in Africa support to continue suppressing media. 

“It’s not the first time I’m being denied a visa… but denying a visa for a journalist who is coming to talk about press freedom, that is where the problem is,” she said.

“It gives me the impression that Australia is giving Africans leaders, Cameroonian leaders, or those that are trying to silence journalists, the path to continue doing what they have been doing.”

Last year Mefo was arrested and briefly jailed in Cameroon for reporting allegations that actions of the country’s military had led to the death of an American pastor.

“We keep working in fear of being arrested or being threatened by the government,” she said.

Jodie Ginsberg, the chief executive of Index of Censorship, described as “obviously nonsense” the idea that Mefo would jeopardize a two-year contract with DW to seek asylum.

“Is it conspiracy or cock-up? I suspect they didn’t perhaps take into account all the documentation which demonstrates her achievements and the fact she was going straight on to her talk in South Africa,” Ginsberg said.

 “If that’s the case it means many journalists or dissidents will find they aren’t able to enter Australia.”

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