The Chad Association of Privately-Owned Press Editors (AEPT) has announced that five affiliated newspapers - N’Djamena Bi-hebdo, Notre Temps, Le Temps, Sarh Tribune and the Messager - will suspend publication for two weeks from 6 December in protest against the government’s decision to extend prior censorship for six months and France’s “indifference” to the media’s plight.
24.11.2006 - Government warned it will be weakened by decision to extend censorship for six months
Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today at last night’s decision by the Chadian national assembly to extend a 10-day-old state of emergency for six months, thereby maintaining prior censorship of the print media and permanent monitoring of privately-owned radio stations.
“Deaf to the most obvious arguments, uninterested in dialogue and resolved to gag any critical publications, the Chadian government has taken a road that will only weaken it in the end,” the press freedom organisation warned.
“Rightly or wrongly, the privately-owned press is now bound to be regarded as an enemy of the state and this will only further the interests of those who seek its overthrow,” Reporters Without Borders added. “It is not too late to rescind these surveillance and censorship provisions, which are the most disturbing feature of this state of emergency.”
Deputies voted by 77 to 0, with 6 abstentions, to extend the state of emergency for six months in the regions of Hadjer Lamis (Chari Baguirmi) in the west, BET (Borkou, Ennedi and Tibesti) in the north, Moyen-Chari in the south and the city of N’Djamena. An opposition deputy told Reporters Without Borders the vote took place without any prior debate being possible.
Under the 13 November state of emergency (Decree No. 1014), newspaper publishers “are required to obtain prior permission from the Regional Censorship Committee before printing newspapers.”
The committee consists of senior officials from the communication ministry, the directorate of communication at the president’s office, the prime minister’s office, the public security, immigration and intelligence ministry, the defence ministry, the territorial administration ministry, and the directorate for administrative legal issues. Its job is to “receive, read and authorise the publication of all newspaper issues.”
Aside from the pro-governmental daily Le Progrès, most of the N’Djamena newspapers chose to suspend publication after initially appearing with blacks strips and the words “Censored section” replacing articles viewed by the committee as “liable to undermine national cohesion.”