STATEMENT FROM INTEGRITY 20 REGARDING MIMI MEFO TAKAMBOU
23 October 2019
The Integrity 20 event organisers are deeply disappointed to learn Cameroonian journalist Mimi Mefo Takambou was refused a visa to allow her to appear as one of this year’s highlighted keynote speakers.
Ms Takambou is an internationally renowned journalist who regularly speaks at major global events about the importance of media freedom.
Integrity 20 understands the Department of Home Affairs refused Ms Takambou’s visa on the basis that they were “not satisfied that the applicant’s employment and financial situation provide an incentive to return following his (sic) stay in Australia, or to abide by the conditions to which the visa would be subject”.
Mefo is the winner of this year’s Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award, and was due to speak on Friday October 25 on media freedom and the challenges she faces as a journalist in Cameroon.
She was jailed in Cameroon last year for reporting allegations of military involvement in the death of an American missionary and was released four days later following national and international pressure.
Mefo is due to fly from Australia straight to South Africa to give the prestigious Carlos Cardoso memorial lecture at the 15th African Investigative Journalism Conference, where Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz will give the keynote.
She travelled to the UK in July from Berlin as the guest of the UK government at a major global conference on media freedom. Mefo is currently based in Germany as a journalist for the Deutsche Welle media organisation.
Chair of Integrity 20 Professor Susan Forde said the decision to refuse Mefo’s visa denied the opportunity for Australians to hear from this significant international voice on the importance of independent media in a democracy.
“We have more than 1,200 people registered to attend this event to hear from international voices like Mimi; and we have young Australians, high school students, who have the opportunity to be inspired by a brave voice who has survived imprisonment and is now working to expose the problems that occur when governments try to oppress certain voices.
“We’re very disappointed that Mimi won’t be joining us, and are hopeful this decision will be reconsidered urgently.”
Mefo was due to deliver a keynote address, ‘Without Fear or Favour’ for both the schools and public programs, and appear on a panel, ‘Freedom and the Fourth Estate’ with esteemed Australian journalist Kerry O’Brien, Chief Executive of the UK’s freedom of expression organisation Index on Censorship Jodie Ginsberg and Queensland investigative journalist and author, Matthew Condon.
Integrity 20, a Griffith University public conference, is now in its 6th year, and gathers remarkable people from Australia and around the world to examine and discuss some of our greatest social, moral and political challenges.