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Chad22 November 2006

One by one, censorship forces N’Djamena newspapers to stop publishing

Reporters Without Borders today urged Chad’s parliament to allow the N’Djamena-based print media to resume publishing freely as long as they respect the laws that were in force before a state of emergency was declared on 13 November. One by one, most of the capital’s privately-owned newspapers have stopped publishing because of the state of emergency’s absurd restrictions, and only one is still appearing.

The biweekly N’Djamena Bi-hebdo and the weekly Le Temps opted not to publish until the state of emergency’s initial 12-day period expires, after which parliament’s approval is needed for any extension. Only Le Progrès, a privately-owned daily that supports the government, is still appearing normally.

Nadjikimo Benoudjita, the managing editor of the weekly Notre Temps, told Reporters Without Borders he decided to stop publishing until the lifting of the state of emergency after the National Security Agency (ANS) ordered him to stop referring to the armed clashes in the east of the country.

On 15 November, around 15 secret service employees came to his home, which is located next to the newspaper, and seized all the copies they could find of the latest issue, which had appeared that day. Street vendors with copies of the latest issue were also forced to surrender them to the police.

Benoudjita also had to undertake not to distribute any copies that had not been confiscated. The next day, he was summoned by the police director general, who warned him not to try to elude the prior censorship mechanisms that had just been established under the state of emergency.

Benoudjita had nonetheless obtained permission from the attorney general to distribute the 15 November issue after asking him, since it was printed before the state of emergency proclamation, if the prior censorship was retroactive.

Abdelnasser Garboa, the editor of the weekly L’Observateur, told Reporters Without Borders that the communication ministry’s censorship committee today ordered him to modify the layout of tomorrow’s issue so that there was no reference to the censored articles. Like most of the newspapers still publishing, last week’s issue displayed black strips with the words “Censored section.”

Garboa refused to bow to this demand and told Reporters Without Borders he was very upset. “I no longer know what to do,” he said. “This is bordering on the absurd. They even suppressed the passages where we wrote that France is supporting Chad, although both governments have officially acknowledged and welcomed this.”

To show the retrograde nature of the censorship introduced on 13 November, Reporters Without Borders is publishing facsimiles of pages 1, 2 and 3 of the 15-21 November issue of Le Temps, as censored. Please click below to download them (in French).

JPEG - 98.5 kb
Le Temps - Une
JPEG - 162.3 kb
Le Temps - Page 2
JPEG - 189.2 kb
Le Temps - Page 3

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