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Gabon6 September 2002

Two private newspapers suspended for three months

On 6 September 2002, the weeklies Misamu and Gabaon were suspended for three months by order of the National Communication Council (Conseil national de la Communication, CNC). The regulatory body has accused the two newspapers of publishing news "that undermines confidence in the state and the dignity of those responsible for the republic’s institutions".

"Once more, the CNC and the Gabonese authorities are attacking the private press. In Gabon, as soon as a newspaper denounces the misappropriation of funds or criticises the state’s highest-level officials, it risks being censured or suspended," stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Prime Minister Jean-François Ntoutoume Emane. The organisation asked the prime minister to intervene to ensure that the CNC measure is cancelled and do everything possible to expand press freedom in Gabon.

The weekly Misamu was suspended for reporting on the "disappearance of 3 billion CFA francs (approx. 4.5 million euros) from the public treasury." The newspaper also announced the possibility of "non-payment of civil servants’ wages during the month of September 2002." Meanwhile, the newspaper Gabaon was punished for "violently" criticising Senate President Georges Rawiri in its 9 August edition, according to a CNC communiqué. Finally, two other publications, Le Nganga and La Lowé, were "given notice" for articles undermining the prime minister’s dignity, according to the authority responsible for regulating the media.

Reporters Without Borders notes that in 2001, the newspaper La Griffe and its international version Le Gri Gri International were also suspended by the CNC. The regulating authority also prohibited the publication director and editor-in-chief from practising their profession as journalists.



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