Ameriques Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Lesotho26 June 2003

Independent radio station and newspaper on verge of being forced to close

Reporters Without Borders today urged the judicial authorities not to push Moafrika, an independent newspaper and radio station known for criticising the authorities, into closure because of non-payment of a fine 170,000 maloti (about 20,000 euros) which it was sentenced to pay in a libel suit in 2000.

Describing the fine as "out of all proportion to the resources available to a news media in Lesotho," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard appealed to the judicial authorities in a letter to be flexible and either reduce the amount of the fine or allow it to be paid in installments.

"If the judicial system is to be respected, it must not become a means for censoring news media by forcing them to stop operating," Ménard said.

Although Moafrika had begun to pay the fine in installments, three Lesotho high court sheriffs went to the offices of the radio on 16 June with an execution writ, threatening to seize all the movable equipment of the radio station and newspaper and the editor’s personal property, if the fine was not paid in full on the spot.

The sheriffs returned yesterday, put seals on the radio station’s computers and broadcasting equipment, and warned station director Candi Ratabane Ramainoane that they would return today to collect everything.

In this country
24 October - Lesotho
Radio station back on the air after three-month suspension
9 July - Lesotho
Weekly’s survival threatened by state advertising boycott ordered by government
26 June - Lesotho
Radio host freed on bail, charged with failing to report subversive activity
21 November - Lesotho
Campaign of threats against leading political journalist

in the annual report
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