PEN Sydney – a branch of PEN International, a worldwide organisation dedicated to supporting persecuted writers – expresses support for Cameroonian journalist, Mimi Mefo Takambou, who was denied entry into our country after her visa was rejected.
Mimi Mefo is one of the most persecuted journalists in Cameroon due to her reporting on the civil war. She has been threatened, intimidated, and arrested and jailed in Cameroon for doing her job. She was a resident writer of English PEN earlier this year, and received the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Journalism Award 2019. She was due to give a keynote speech about media freedom and her work as a journalist on 25 October at the Integrity 20 conference in Brisbane. The conference, hosted by Griffith University, is an internationally renowned event bringing together the world’s leading thinkers and activists.
Mimi Mefo’s visa was rejected by Australian immigration authorities because they “were not satisfied that the applicant’s employment and financial situation provide an incentive to return.” Mefo is an award-winning freelance journalist who is based in Germany and has delivered speeches all over the world.
PEN Sydney is disappointed that the Australian Government has refused a world renowned international journalist entry into the country. This is especially concerning considering Australia’s very own national debate regarding media freedom. At this exact moment, major media organisations are running a national press freedom campaign titled Right to Know. We believe actions such as these discourage the necessary conversations which maintain a healthy democracy and will undermine Australia’s standing in the international community.
We expect that in the future, Australian immigration authorities will support the work of journalists like Mimi Mefo rather than silence them with bureaucratic censorship.
President of PEN Sydney