IFJ Condemns Arbitrary Detention of Journalist and Denounces Threats against Free Press in Mauritania

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today condemned the unlawful, arbitrary and unjustified detention of Hannevy Ould Dehah, Director of Taqadoumy website in  Dar Nahim prison in Nouakchott, after he had served his term.

“The detention of our colleague beyond the length of his sentence is a scandal,” declared Gabriel Baglo    , Director of IFJ Africa Office. “The legal proceedings against him were baseless because there is no provision under the Mauritanian law for prosecuting electronic press. They were just an excuse to muzzle that media,” he added.

Hannevy Ould Dehah was arrested on 18 June 2009 by the prosecutor of Nouakchott, convicted on 19 August for offending public decency and sentenced to six months in prison and fined. On December 24, 2009, he had served his term but the prison’s authorities refused to release him, placing him in arbitrary detention.

The Taqadoumy website was one of the most critical websites of the putsch which brought to power the current President on 6 August 2008.

According to the Syndicat des Journalistes Mauritaniens (SJM), its officials met the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Communication and of Justice, the Representative of the United Nations and the prosecutor to request their intervention for the release of Hannevy..

The SJM President, Said Hussein, said that “in spite of 4 sit-ins, 3 demonstrations and a permanent sit-in before the union headquarters, Hannevy is always in prison where he started a hunger strike last Sunday. We will continue our fight until his release and hold the authorities responsible for his safety and wellbeing.”

Furthermore, the IFJ is concerned by the repercussions of the unilateral decision taken one week before the end of the year  by the national printing company to increase by 300% the printing expenses for independent newspapers, leading the press to observe one day without newspapers on Sunday 3 January2010. According to IFJ, this decision threatens the very existence of free press in Mauritania.

The IFJ calls on Mauritanian authorities to release immediately and without condition Hannevy and to fulfill promises made by the head of state, Abdel Aziz, to guarantee free media and press freedom.

For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide