IFJ Denounces “Disproportionate” Sanctions against Media in Gabon

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today denounced the disproportionate sanctions imposed by the National Council of Communication (CNC) in Gabon on November 10, 2009 against eight private newspapers which have been struck with temporary prohibition of publication as well as the suspension of a very popular television program.

“The increasingly degradation of the working conditions of media practitioners in Gabon is very worrying.  In addition to numerous threats to journalists, Government wants to further muzzle the free and independent press,” declared Gabriel Baglo, Director of IFJ Africa Office.  “These sanctions are disproportionate compared to the charges leveled against the media

At its meeting of November 10, the CNC decided to suspend and give final warning to certain media houses which are accused of allegedly as  "wholesale  relaying of public rumours" whereas certain articles are blamed for " spreading ethnic divisions, insults and slander".

Following an article published on October 29, 2009 entitled “the first steps of a rogue state”, Les Echosdu Nord, a bi- weekly newspaper, was suspended for 3 months while Le Scribouillard, L’Ombre and La Nation were banned from publication for two months duration. The weekly magazines Nku' U le Messager and Le Crocodile were suspended for one month.

The weekly magazine Le Temps and the irregular newspaper Gabon d’abord received a final warning to respect the laws relating to ethics of journalism.

Moreover, the very popular and interactive daily program "Entre nous", which makes broadcasts people’s opinions was also suspended. The CNC charges the television channel Canal Espoir with "lacking skills of making an interactive broadcasts", without announcing clearly the duration of this suspension.

IFJ demands that the Gabonese authorities review the sanctions imposed by the CNC and calls for a broad dialogue with all the media actors to initiate a public debate on the decriminalization of all press laws so that freedom of expression and press freedom which are strong components in any democracy can become a reality in this country.

For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95 87
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 123 countries worldwide