21 October 2003


Issue of weekly newspaper suspended without explanation

Incident details



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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has urged the Mauritanian authorities to lift a suspension order against the weekly "Le Calame". The Ministry of the Interior, Posts and Telecommunications, which regulates the press, suspended issue 414 of the weekly on 19 October 2003, citing Article 11 of the Press Law, which allows for censorship without explanation.

Article 11 of the 1991 Press Law gives the ministry the right, by decree, "to ban the circulation, distribution or sale of newspapers [. . .] that undermine the principles of Islam or the credibility of the state, harm the general interest or disturb public order and security". RSF called for the repeal of Article 11.

A member of the weekly's editorial staff, as quoted by the Pana news agency, said the suspension is believed to be linked to an article entitled, "The big silence at the centre of the debate".

In the same issue of the paper, a former "Le Calame" journalist, who now lives in exile in France, analysed the political situation in the country on the eve of presidential elections. The article advocated the urgent need for a genuine democratic alternative to President Maaouiya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya's political monopoly.

The authorities frequently invoke Article 11, which is a real threat to press freedom in Mauritania. Citing the article, the authorities seized copies of the Arabic-language newspaper "Essahifa" on 23 September (see IFEX alert of 29 September 2003). On 29 July, they also banned distribution of the independent paper "Le Rénovateur" on the same pretext (see alert of 31 July 2003).


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