Reporters Without Borders today condemned the closure of Capiibary-based community radio station Ñemity FM in northern Paraguay in a 26 August raid by officials from the National Commission for Telecommunications and around 200 policemen who confiscated its equipment on the grounds that it did not have licence. The raid was ordered by the prosecutor of the city of Curuguaty.
"As most of Paraguay’s community radio stations do not have any official authorisation to broadcast, we view Ñemity FM’s closure as an arbitrary measure aimed at silencing this station in particular," the press freedom organisation said.
"We call on the authorities to speed up legislation for community radio stations so that they can broadcast freely, without constant fear of being closed or their equipment being seized," Reporters Without Borders added.
The station’s equipment was already confiscated on 3 July 2002.
The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters said Ñemity FM began all the paperwork necessary for official approval a year ago and obtained a promise from the authorities that it would be allowed to continue operating in the meantime.
The delays in processing the application have been due to administrative obstructiveness that is the result of an obvious lack of political will to legalise radio stations that serve as a mouthpiece for the general public, the association added.
Reporters Without Borders has registered two other press freedom violations affecting community radio stations this month.
The studios of radio Quebracho Poty in northeastern Paraguay were destroyed by a firebomb on 2 August, while Daniel Martínez and Álvaro Mondito of radio El Puente de La Teja received anonymous phone calls in early August advising them to "take care of themselves." Previously, the station received e-mail warnings that a demonstration would be held outside to demand the closure of what was a "den of iniquity."