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Chad12 February 2002

Private radio station suspended for three weeks

In a letter to Emmanuel Bealoum Touadé, president of the High

Council of Communications (Haut conseil de la communication, HCC), RSF

protested the community radio station FM Liberté’s three-week suspension.

"The authorities are blaming the radio station for a demonstration that took

place, yet the station was only doing its job and had no reason not to

report this information," explained RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. RSF

asked that the station’s suspension be lifted immediately.

According to information collected by RSF, the HCC suspended the private

radio station FM Liberté from 11 February to 4 March 2002. According to the

broadcasting authority, the station violated Article 14 of the schedule of

conditions governing the operation of private community radio stations. This

article bans the broadcast of "information likely to disrupt public order".

FM Liberté reported on a demonstration in Cameroon by Université de

Ngaoundéré (north of Yaoundé) students, during which Chad nationals were

arrested by soldiers and roughed up by Cameroonians. The news angered

students at the Félix Eboué Secondary School in N’Djamena, who protested

against the presence of Cameroonian nationals in Chad on 4 February. Several

persons were injured during the demonstration.

RSF recalls that the HCC previously threatened to close FM Liberté on 8 May

2001, during the last presidential election campaign. The radio station had

protested the broadcasting authority’s decision barring "all political

debate or debate of a political nature...on the airwaves of private,

associative or community radio stations during the entire 2001 presidential

election campaign period". The radio station’s management finally reached an

agreement with the HCC. FM Liberté was allowed to cover the campaign, except

on its programme "Le club de la presse".

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