3 October 2006

Alert

Newspaper editor arrested, publisher injured when police disperse protest against state broadcast monopoly


Incident details

Roger Mancienne, Jean-François Ferrari

journalist(s)

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(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemned the violent dispersal of an opposition demonstration in the Seychelles capital of Victoria on 3 October 2006, to demand for an end to the state's monopoly of radio and TV broadcasting. Roger Mancienne, the editor of the opposition weekly "Regar", was arrested while Jean-François Ferrari, the newspaper's publisher, was injured.

"It is perfectly legitimate to demand an end to the state's broadcasting monopoly and strict control of the public media," the press freedom organisation said. "So it is incomprehensible that anti-riot police used violence against unarmed citizens who turned out in support of the opposition and journalists."

Reporters Without Borders added: "President James Michel's government must admit that it is high time it peacefully relinquished its grip over news and information in Seychelles. And there was absolutely no valid reason for arresting Mancienne. He must be freed at once."

In the 3 October demonstration, several hundred supporters of the opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP) gathered outside parliament to hand in a petition calling for press freedom. The protest was prompted by parliament's rejection of an SNP motion to amend the law banning political parties from setting up their own radio stations. The opposition is denied access to state radio and TV stations, even at election time, and the editorial policies of the public media are strictly controlled by the government.

On 3 October, the communication minister looked on as anti-riot police armed with guns and tear gas grenades stormed the site of the protest and beat opposition members and journalists who were present. Ferrari sustained head injuries and multiple fractures, his wife told Reporters Without Borders. He was taken to a hospital along with SNP chief Wavel Ramkalawan, whose condition was not immediately known. Mancienne, who is also the SNP's secretary-general, was taken to police headquarters, where he is still being held.

"Regar" and "The New Seychelles Weekly" are the only opposition media in Seychelles, which has draconian legislation on defamation and inaccurate news reports that are enforced by courts that are often very politicised. An arson attack on "Regar"'s printing press on the night of 8 December 2005 remains unpunished (see IFEX alert of 13 December 2005).



Source

Journaliste en danger
B.P. 633 - Kinshasa 1
374, av. Col. Mondjiba
Complexe Utexafrica, Galerie St Pierre, 1er niveau, Local 18 Kinshasa/Ngaliema
République Démocratique du Congo
direction (@) jed-afcentre.org
Fax:+44 20 7900 3413
Seychelles
 
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