Mali rarely gives press freedom organisations cause for concern. Its news media are free, and press independence is a reality. Nonetheless, three journalists were imprisoned in 2003.
Journalists were imprisoned in Mali for the first time in many years. Three reporters with a privately-owned radio station spend up to three weeks in jail after being accused of inciting violence. All the national media rallied to their defence. Their case, which had not yet come to trial at the end of the year, served as a reminder to Malian journalists that press freedom can never be taken for granted.
With about 100 privately-owned radio stations and a score of newspapers, Mali nonetheless continued to be one of Africa’s most open countries as regards free expression.
Three journalists imprisoned
Amadou Chérif Haïdara, Mamoutou Traoré and Gata Bah of the privately-owned radio station Kayira were arrested in the northeastern town of Ségou between 28 and 31 October 2003 after broadcasting a report in which a group of villagers criticized the seizure and sale of their cattle by bailiffs in order to collect debts. The radio station’s equipment was also confiscated, forcing it temporarily off the air. Imprisoned pending trail on charges of inciting violence, insults and defamation, the three journalists were freed on bail on 18 November.