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Madagascar24 May 2005

RFI correspondent forced to leave the country

Reporters Without Borders called for an explanation from the President of Madagascar, Marc Ravalomanana, after Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent Olivier Péguy was forced to leave the country after his work permit and therefore his resident’s permit were not renewed.

"No official reason has been given to back up this abrupt and surprising decision," the worldwide press freedom organisation said in its 23 May 2005 letter to the president.

"In the absence of any explanation, we are inclined to think that Olivier Péguy has been the victim of a camouflaged expulsion using a bureaucratic pretext. It if this not the case then it is important for the government to provide solid justification for this serious step taken against an honest journalist."

Péguy, who has been in the country since 2001, was correspondent for several international media including Radio France Outremer Réunion (RFO), German public radio Deutsche Welle (DW) and RFI. He had tried unsuccessfully to renew his papers for several months, in line with the country’s requirements.

A work permit is one of the essential documents needed in Madagascar for foreigners to obtain a resident’s permit. The journalist, who had been unable to work for more than six weeks, saw his resident’s permit expire on 21 May and was therefore forced to leave to avoid putting himself in an illegal situation.

Secretary of state for public security, Lucien Victor Razakanirina, and minister of civil service, labour and social laws, Jean Théodore Ranjivason, both told Agence France-Presse (AFP), that they were not aware of the case. But the 30 March letter sent to Péguy to inform him of the non-renewal of his work permit came from the civil service, labour and social laws ministry and referred to a previous letter on 23 March, signed by the secretary of state for public security", said Reporters Without Borders.

"In our eyes, by pretending to know nothing about this case, the Malagasy authorities have only fuelled suspicions of a political score-settling with this journalist.

The French and German embassies in Madagascar as well the management of RFI and DW have also intervened to seek an explanation for the treatment of the French journalist.

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