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Mauritania 8 July 2002

Newspaper censored by the government

Publication of the latest issue of the weekly newspaper La Tribune has been banned, apparently because it contained criticism of recent government efforts to interfere with the election of the president of the national bar association.

"This shows that despite the government saying it favours a "free, strong and professional" press, it continues to use the notorious Article 11 of the press law to punish newspapers that mention what it sees as taboo subjects," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to interior minister Lemrabott Sidi Mahmoud Ould Cheikh Ahmed. At least five newspapers have been censored by the ministry since June last year.

The interior ministry refused permission for the 2 July issue of French-language weekly newspaper La Tribune (no.165) to be printed, under Article 11 of the press law. The decision appears to have been prompted by an article in that issue headed "Bar Association election" that criticised the government’s failed attempt to prevent the re-election of Mahfoudh Ould Bettah as the Association’s president at a meeting on 27 June.

The managing editor of La Tribune, Mohamed Fall Ould Oumere, was arrested on 12 April for investigating the activities of a non-officially recognised organisation called "Conscience et résistance.". He was freed on 21 April.

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