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Mauritania24 October 2003

Distribution of Calame and Essahifa reauthorised

The interior, posts and telecommunications ministry on 22 October reauthorised distribution of the weekly Calame and the Arabic-language paper Essahifa after a three-day suspension for giving publicity to presidential candidate Ahmed Ould Daddah, according to the ministry’s director of public liberties and political affairs. Several dozen journalists staged a protest sit-in in front of the interior ministry in Nouakchott on 21 October, due to these suspensions.


Weekly newspaper suspended without explanation

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) has called for the immediate lifting of a suspension on the newspaper Calame under article 11 of the Press Law that permits censorship without explanation.

The weekly was suspended on 19 October by the ministry of the interior, posts and telecommunications that regulates the press.The ministry used article 11 of the 1991 law that gives it the right by decree « to ban the circulation, distribution or sale ofnewspapers [...] that undermine the principles of Islam or the credibility of the state, harm the general interest or disturb public order and security. »

This article, that allows censorship without explanation, should be repealed, the press freedom organisation added. A member of Calame’s editorial staff, quoted by the Pana news agency, said the suspension was believed to be linked to an article headlined, « The big silence at the centre of the debate ».

In the same issue a former Calame journalist, now living in exile in France. analysed the political situation on the eve of presidential elections in an article that openly advocated the urgent need for a real democratic alternative to the political monopoly of President Taya.

The authorities frequently resort to use of article 11, which is a real threat to press freedom in Mauritania. On 23 September the authorities seized copies of the Arabic-language newspaper Essahifa and on 29 July distribution was banned of the independent newspaper Le Rénovateur, both under article 11.

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