Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Madagascar26 February 2002

Press freedom threatened following state of emergeny declaration and attacks on private radio stations

image 112 x 192 (JPEG) In a letter to President Didier Ratsiraka, RSF expressed its

concern following the declaration of a state of emergency, citing its

possible effect on press freedom in the country. "The legitimate search for

a return to calm should not translate into a calling into question of press

freedom in the country. The authorities must pay particular attention to

ensuring that information pluralism is respected," noted Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary-general. "In addition, there have been a number of recent attacks on journalists and private media outlets. The head of state must consult with the relevant authorities in order to ensure that media professionals can continue to work securely during this crisis period," the secretary-general added.

According to information collected by RSF, President Ratsiraka declared a

state of emergency on 22 February 2002, after opposition figure Marc

Ravalomanana declared himself president. The measure gives the head of state total control over news broadcasts and enables him to limit freedom of expression.

In addition, during the night of 23 February, about ten masked men attacked

The offices of Ravalomanana Madagascar Broadcasting Service’s (MBS) radio

station in Fianarantsoa (300 km south of the capital, Antananarivo). The

offices were set on fire and three night watchmen were seriously injured in

the attack. In the past few days, unidentified individuals have reportedly

also attempted to forcibly enter the MBS station in Antsirabe (150 km south

of the capital). "We have locked ourselves inside the station offices for

the past three days as we fear for our safety," the radio station’s

editor-in-chief told a Madagascan daily.

On 20 February, striking secondary school students ransacked and threw

stones at the offices of the Amoron’i Mania Radio-Television (Art) station

in Ambositra les Roses (south of Antsirabe). The students were protesting

the station’s coverage of events, which they considered to be

overly-partisan. The station is owned by the prime minister. Three days

earlier, an MBS crew was attacked in Brickaville (east of the capital) by

supporters of President Ratsiraka. On 2 February, Lieutenant-Colonel

Coutiti, the information minister’s technical adviser, confiscated the

private FM 91 radio station’s equipment in Nosy Be (an island in the

country’s northern region) and closed the station. FM 91 is owned by a

provincial councillor who supports Ravalomanana.

In this country
22 May - Madagascar
Radio Mada reporter freed after two weeks in detention
23 April - Madagascar
Media under attack one month after new president installed
13 March - Madagascar
Concern about malagasy journalists caught up in political turmoil
9 February - Madagascar
Dismay at fatal shooting of TV reporter covering anti-government demonstration
17 December - Madagascar
Government closes TV station owned by political rival

in the annual report
Madagascar - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists