Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard, the head of the organization’s Africa Desk, Ambroise Pierre, and the rest of its staff are shocked to learn that their Cameroon correspondent Jules Koum Koum died late yesterday as a result of a car accident on the outskirts of Yaoundé.
“No one will forget Jules Koum Koum’s courage and commitment,” Julliard said. “Nothing scared him. He was always pressing the Cameroonian authorities to do more for media freedom. He distributed Reporters Without Borders assistance grants to fellow journalists and visited them when they were in prison. His objectivity, determination and active presence on the ground made him an exemplary correspondent. Media freedom has lost one of its most ardent defenders.”
Ambroise Pierre said: “He had a strong sense of justice and was ready to take up every kind of cause. He fought for press freedom, obviously, but he also combated corruption. He did detailed and well-researched stories on cases of embezzlement involving various Cameroonian figures which contributed to an anti-corruption drive known as Operation Sparrowhawk.
“There was no limit to his commitment. I remember how, when he came to Paris in May 2009 to give a conference on media freedom in Cameroon, he participated with us in a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy. He stood at the front, proud to carry a placard and shout slogans denouncing the Ahmadinejad regime’s abuses.”
Jules was at the wheel of his car when he was in a head-on collision with a truck at around 5 p.m. yesterday on the outskirts of Yaoundé. He was pulled out alive from the wreck and was taken to Yaoundé general hospital, where he died 30 minutes after arrival. The police are investigating and an autopsy will be conducted at the beginning of next week.
Editor of the Douala-based bimonthly Le Jeune Observateur and promoter of radio HOP, he had been the Reporters Without Borders correspondent since 2005.
Jules accompanied the head of the Africa Desk during a fact-finding visit to Cameroon from 26 September to 2 October, participating in meetings with communication minister and government spokesman Issa Tchiroma Bakary and with presidential chief of staff and private secretary Martin Belinga Eboutou. Of late he had been urging the authorities to hold a national conference on the media and to decriminalize media offences.
“We offer our most sincere condolences to his colleagues and friends, and our thoughts are with his widow and three children, Thierry, Jessica and Dorette, and with his parents, Benoît and Philomène,” Reporters Without Borders added.