20 September 2001

Alert

Government shuts down all private newspapers


Incident details

newspaper(s)

closed

This is available in:

English Français

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to President Issaias Afeworki, RSF protested the suspension of Eritrea's eight private newspapers. RSF asked the president to lift this measure and to allow the private press to publish again. "We have not seen such a radical and repressive act against the private press in Africa in many years. The decision to simply close all private newspapers is not only unacceptable but also constitutes an impediment to the establishment of real democracy in Eritrea," said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard. "The head of state has revealed himself to be a press freedom predator," added Ménard.


According to information gathered by RSF, on 18 September 2001, private newspapers announced that further to a government decision, they had published their last issue until further notice. On 19 September, no newspapers were published. The director of state television explained on the air that private media outlets had been afforded "the time to correct their mistakes. They put the country's unity at risk."


The private press's indefinite suspension was ordered on the same day as the arrest in Asmara of seven former ministers and generals. They are all former Eritrean Popular Liberation Front leaders who have become very critical of President Afeworki. They were also part of a group of fifteen personalities who publicly appealed to the head of state in May for "greater democracy" in the country and accused the president of acting in an "unconstitutional manner." Among them was former Minister of Information Beraki Gebreselassie, who lifted military censorship on information in November 1999.


This measure by the Eritrean authorities is the most serious yet. Since the end of ther war with Ethiopia, the private press was experiencing steadily increasing success, even outselling the official press. In recent months, several journalists were briefly detained by the police. The 1997 constitution, which proposes less restrictive measures for the press than the 1994 law, has yet to be applied, by decision of the head of state.




Source

Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org


Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
Eritrea
 
More from Eritrea
  • Shadow Report to Initial National Report (1999-2016) from the State of Eritrea

    Reporters Without Borders (RSF) accuses the Eritrean government of a complete denial of reality in its first-ever report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and announces that it has submitted an alternative "shadow report" with a much darker assessment of the state of press freedom in Eritrea.

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Eritrea

    17 journalists were imprisoned in Eritrea as of December 1, 2015, the most in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Eritrea

    Ranked 195th in annual global media freedom report