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Chad/Sudan15 February 2008

Privately-owned press caught up in a proxy war

Reporters Without Borders has condemned harassment and censorship of the privately-owned press by the governments of Chad and Sudan after rebels which N’Djamena accuses of being in the pay of Khartoum, launched an offensive against the Chadian capital.

“The press - easy prey, systematic scapegoat and convenient whipping boy in case of a crisis - is once again paying the price of tension between Chad and Sudan,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“The government in N’Djamena keeps the press in a threatening iron grip, while in Khartoum, the political police continue to prevent the circulation of opinions which are embarrassing to the government. These are distressing attitudes”.

A state of emergency was declared in Chad throughout the territory on 15 February 2008, under a decree passed by Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, which brought in a curfew, as well as “checks on movement of people and vehicles, “searches of homes, and controls on the public and privately-owned press”.

The Chadian press is effectively moribund, with most of the capital’s newspaper and radio proprietors in hiding or in exile for fear of being arrested. According to Reporters Without Borders’ own count, at least ten publishers, editors and journalists of major publications and private radios in N’Djamena have taken refuge in Cameroon or Nigeria. The organisation’s own correspondent, also a journalist on the privately-owned weekly Le Temps, Laldjim Narcisse, is among the journalists who have decided to leave the country after intelligence services came to his home just after the fighting ended.

Only the privately-owned pro-government Le Progrès and the privately-owned L’Observateur appeared on 15 February. The privately-owned radio, FM Liberté, is still closed on the order of the minister of the interior and public security, as is the weekly Notre Temps, whose managing editor, Nadjikimo Benoudjita, was in December 2007 charged, after spending three days in prison, with “inciting tribal hatred”. He has also left the country.

In Sudan, security forces on 14 February blocked publication of the privately-owned opposition daily al-Rai al-Shaab (close to the Popular Congress Party of Hassan al-Turabi), after it referred to the Sudanese government’s support for the Chadian rebels who entered N’Djamena. Police raided the newspaper’s printers at dawn and ordered the removal of two articles, before banning the entire print run of the day, according to a staff member on the paper, quoted by the Reuters news agency.

In this country
21 May - Sudan
Call for amendments to harsh new press law
2 March - Sudan
Detained journalist put on a flight to London
11 February - Sudan
“They asked me why I was asking about arms. Then they said they wanted me to leave the country”: the story of a Canadian-egyptian journalist expelled by the authorities
25 November - Sudan
For the good of the country, stop censoring
14 October - Sudan
South Sudan newspaper editor released

in the annual report
Sudan - Annual Report 2008
Sudan - Annual Report
Sudan - Annual report 2006
In this country
28 March - Chad
N’Djamena press reappears for first time since state of emergency proclaimed
20 March - Chad
Dismay at government’s decision to withdraw French reporter’s accreditation
27 February - Chad
Adoption of new press law by decree called “unacceptable imposition”
22 February - Chad
Disastrous plight of independent media under state of emergency deplored
11 February - Chad
Journalists flee to neighbouring countries after wave of arrests of opposition leaders

in the annual report
Chad - Annual Report 2008
Chad - Annual Report 2007
Chad - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
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Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
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Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
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Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
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"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

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Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists