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Eritrea18 September 2002

Reporters Without Borders occupies the Eritrean embassy in Paris

(GIF) Update : A score of Reporters Without Borders activists occupied the Eritrean embassy in Paris for two hours on 18 September to demand the release of 18 journalists imprisoned in the country and an end to the government’s ban on all independent newspapers. Police were called to remove them from the embassy at 6 p.m (4 p.m).


(JPEG)

Since 4 p.m. today (2 p.m GMT), about 20 activists of Reporters Without Borders have been occupying the Eritrean embassy in Paris (31-33 rue Lecourbe) in protest against the press freedom situation in the country.

"It is unacceptable that, with complete impunity, a government can deprive a whole people of their right to be informed," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard. "We urge all international organisations, especially the United Nations and the European Union, to impose sanctions against the Eritrean leaders."

"For the past year, we have regularly asked for visas so we can visit these imprisoned journalists, but the government stubbornly refuses to allow us into the country."

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders calls on the Eritrean authorities, notably President Issaias Afeworki, to free all the journalists being held and allow privately-owned media to operate again.

All non-government media were shut down on 18 September last year and 18 journalists have since been arrested. A year later, their whereabouts are unknown, they have not been tried and no official reason has been given for their detention.

Eritrea is the only country in Africa and one of the few in the world with no privately-owned media. Only the government media, tightly controlled by the regime, are permitted. The few resident foreign correspondents have left the country because they could no longer operate freely and in complete safety.



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