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Mauritania22 August 2002

Weekly censored by authorities

Reporters Without Borders today protested against the interior ministry’s decision to ban the latest issue in Arabic of the weekly Le Calame, which carried a report on the demonstrations that took place during President Maaouya ould Sid’Ahmed Taya’s recent visit to France.

"This measure shows yet again to what degree the issue of human rights is taboo in Mauritania", Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to Interior Minister Lemrabott Sidi Mahmoud Ould Cheikh Ahmed. At least six newspapers have been censored by the interior ministry in the past year.

In this latest case, the interior ministry refused to authorize the printing of the Arabic version of issue 219 of Le Calame (dated 19 August 2002) under article 11 of the 1991 press law. This article says the interior minister may, by decree, "ban the circulation, distribution or sale of newspapers which jeopardize the credibility of the State". The ministry does not have to justify its decision and simply sends written "notification" to the newspaper and printing press.

This issue of Calame had an article on the president’s recent, private trip to France, which prompted demonstrations by Mauritanian opposition movements and French human rights organisations.

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