Switzerland has complained to Cameroon following a reported attack on a Swiss public television journalist in Geneva, outside a hotel where the Cameroon president, Paul Biya, is staying.
The incident involving the RTS journalist happened on Wednesday afternoon, as a group of opponents of Biya demonstrated outside the hotel, RTS reported.external link
Several men, thought to have been bodyguards, ran out of the hotel to chase the demonstrators away, it said. The journalist who remained in front of the hotel filming was reportedly manhandled by the men, who took his bag with his mobile phone, wallet and equipment. This was later returned to him after three hours of negotiations involving the Swiss police. The journalist has filed a complaint against the men involved.
A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman confirmed that Switzerland had taken “diplomatic steps” with Cameroon following the incident.
"The ambassador of Cameroon was summoned to Bern and informed by the Swiss foreign ministry that such incidents are unacceptable, and that freedom of the press is protected and must be respected," Georg Farago told swissinfo.ch.
"Switzerland recalls that it is very committed to freedom of expression and the press as well as to respect for the rules in the public sphere."
The incident is sensitive as it comes after the Swiss foreign ministry just announced that Switzerland was acting as a facilitator in the crisis in north-western and south-western Cameroon at the request of the parties involved. A second preparatory meeting with various Cameroonian opposition groups took place in canton Valais, Switzerland, this week, hence the presence of Biya in Geneva. An initial meeting was held in Geneva in May.
Meanwhile, there have been calls on social media for Cameroonians living in Europe to take part in a protest on Saturday in Geneva against the presence of the 86-year-old head of state, who has ruled Cameroon since 1982.