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Togo11 February 2002

Private radio station closed by the authorities

In a letter to the interior minister, General Sizing Walla, RSF protested the forced closure of Radio Victoire, a private radio station accused of not signing the agreement governing the operation of private stations. "Only four private stations have signed this agreement, according to the Union des radios et télévisions libres (URATEL). All other stations only have temporary permission to broadcast," recalled Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary-general. "Unfortunately, the application of this measure was foreseeable. The station has been in the authorities’ sights since its launch in September 2001. Its tone is disagreeable to some." RSF asked that the station’s broadcasting equipment be returned.

According to information collcted by RSF, on 7 Feburary 2002, Radio Victoire was forced to cease broadcasting after Ministry of the Interior agents seized the station’s broadcasting equipment. The radio station is accused of not complying with the Audio-visual and Communications High Authority’s (Haute Autorité de l’audiovisuel et de la communication, HAAC, the public body that regulates audio-visual media) formal demand, sent to the station’s newsroom via the General Intelligence Services on 5 February. The HAAC had urged the station to cease broadcasting because it had not signed the agreement governing the setting up and operation of private stations. Radio Victoire only has temporary authorisation to broadcast, just like most other stations.

RSF recalls that the HAAC had previously ordered Radio Victoire to cease broadcasting the two programmes "Revue de Presse" and "Vice-Versa" until further notice. In a letter dated 29 November 2001, the HAAC explained that it had based its decision on the fact that, "these controversial programmes lead their hosts to make impassioned and defamatory statements that discredit [Togo’s] constitutional and administrative authorities." The previous day, the prime minister had expressed his displeasure to an official from the station concerning a news bulletin that reported on President Gnassingbé Eyadema’s visit to France, his relations with French President Jacques Chirac and the human rights situation in Togo.

RSF also recalls that General Eyadéma is included on the organisation’s list of international press freedom predators.



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