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Togo19 November 2002

Weekly newspaper "Motion d’information" barred from publishing for past month

Reporters Without Borders has protested the ongoing harassment of "Motion d’information", a weekly newspaper that is close to the opposition, since 23 October 2002. "This attitude illustrates the determination with which the Togolese government censors and stifles the opposition press," Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard stated in his letter to Interior Minister Sizing Walla. The organisation asked the minister to take all necessary measures to ensure that the newspaper is no longer subject to arbitrary harassment and seizures.

Further to an Interior Ministry order, police officers went to the "Motion d’information" printing facility on the morning of 18 November and seized 2,000 copies of issue 202, before it went on sale to the public. The newspaper was not served with a seizure order prior to the incident. Issues 199, 200 and 201 were previously confiscated under similar circumstances. On 21 October, the newspaper had published an article entitled "While We Await the Wild Animals’ Vote" ("En attendant le vote des bêtes sauvages"), which was critical of the unfolding of the last legislative elections. The security forces briefly detained the director of "Motion d’information" following the article’s publication. He spent one hour at Lomé’s central prison for "undermining others’ authority".

Reporters Without Borders recalls that Radio France Internationale programmes have been jammed on the FM dial since 16 September. Moreover, Internet surfers inside Togo have been unable to access the website since 5 October.

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