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Lesotho24 October 2008

Radio station back on the air after three-month suspension

Reporters Without Borders notes that Lesotho’s only privately-owned radio station, Harvest FM, was allowed to resume broadcasting yesterday after being suspended for three months.

The station was forced to close on 21 July as result of a complaint by a police commissioner and a communications ministry official, who accused it of trying “to damage their dignity as individuals.” The country’s telecommunications authority said it failed to comply with broadcasting regulations.

Station manager Malichaba Lekhoaba said he was pleased to be back on the air. “We will in no way compromise with the truth and we will remain the same Harvest FM that everyone knows,” he said.


30.07.08 - Communications authority asked to rescind radio station’s closure

Reporters Without Borders has written to the head of the Lesotho Communications Authority asking him to reverse his decision to close privately-owned radio Harvest FM for three months.

Percy Metsing Mangoaela
Chairperson
Lesotho Communications Authority
PO Box 15896
Maseru 100, Lesotho

Paris, 30 July 2008

Dear Mr. Mangoaela,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, regrets your decision on 21 July to suspend privately-owned radio Harvest FM for three months as a result of a complaint by a police commissioner and a communications ministry official accusing the station of trying “to damage their dignity as individuals.”

The station, which would be allowed to resume broadcasting on 21 October, has received threats in the past because of its reporting, which its openly critical of the government.

The closure of Lesotho’s only privately-owned radio station is a serious violation of free speech. Suspending a news media because of what it has said or written does nothing to redress any defamation or offence that may have been caused. Harvest FM’s closure, which has been widely condemned by local and international press freedom activists, will only cause polarisation and foster a climate of hostility between the government and the media.

For all these reasons, we urge you to rescind your order and allow Harvest FM to resume broadcasting.

We hope you will give this matter your careful consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard
Secretary-General



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