The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the Central African Republican authorities and, in particular, the High Council of Communication (HCC), the official regulatory body of the media to lift the fifteen days suspension imposed against the daily newspaper, l’Hirondelle on April 20, 2009.
“It is an inappropriate decision which is aimed at muzzling this newspaper”, declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office. “After having published the remarks of an army captain, l’Hirondelle also published the position of the government on the story in line with its duty to their right of reply.”
Following the publication of an article on April 2, 2009 which revealed critical remarks of an army captain, HCC accused the daily newspaper, l’Hirondelle of encouraging sedition in the armed forces and of violating Article 29 of the communication law which prohibits journalists from endangering the sovereignty of the country.
Despite the publication of two responses from the Ministry for Defense by l’Hirondelle, HCC still went ahead and suspended the daily newspaper for a fifteen days period.
The decision of HCC led the editors in the country to stop publication of all other papers in the country for the entire duration of the suspension as a mark of solidarity.
Last January the daily newspaper, le Citoyen, was suspended for one month, and a press blackout for some days was also organized in protest.
IFJ urges the Central African Republican authorities to end without delay and unconditionally the suspension of l’Hirondelle, and to support the dialogue with the press in order to guarantee the pluralism of the opinions in promoting the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
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The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide