CPJ says More Malian journalists jailed in high school essay crackdown
Committee to Protect Journalists

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Tel: (212) 465‑1004 Fax: (212) 465‑9568 Web: www.cpj.org E-Mail: info@cpj.org

Tom Rhodes | Africa Program Coordinator | trhodes@cpj.org | (212) 300-9022
Mohamed H. Keita | Africa Program Research Associate | mkeita@cpj.org | (212) 300-9004

More Malian journalists jailed in high school essay crackdown

New York, June 21, 2007—Authorities in the capital Bamako have jailed five journalists in a week—the first arrests in the country since 2003—in the aftermath of an article about a high school essay assignment concerning an imaginary presidential sex scandal.

Director Hameye Cissé of the private weekly Le Scorpion, and directors Birama Fall of Le Républicain, Alexis Kalambry of Les Echos, and Sambi Touré of Info-Matin were jailed in Bamako’s central prison on Wednesday on charges of complicity in an offense against the head of state, according to news reports. The journalists were arrested after their papers reprinted a June 1 story by Info-Matin editor Seydina Oumar Diarra, who was jailed last week.

Diarra’s story, headlined “The Mistress of the President,” featured an interview with a high school teacher and his students regarding an essay assignment about a fictional sex scandal involving an African leader. The teacher told Diarra he assigned the essay in order to make his students explore moral issues.

Director Tiégoum Boubeye Maïga of the private weekly La Nouvelle R épublique said he, too, feared arrest after his paper also reprinted the story this morning, he told CPJ. There was no official reaction from the government, and presidential officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The five defendants are scheduled for trial next Tuesday, according to news reports.

“Rashly throwing journalists in jail for covering a classroom exercise undermines all of the progress that Mali has made regarding press freedom in recent years,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on the authorities to release the five journalists immediately and drop all charges against them.”

About 100 journalists marched today to hand a protest letter to the justice minister, Makan Koné, president of the independent press center Maison de la Presse, told CPJ. Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly, the president of the Bamako-based Union of West African Journalists (known by its French acronym as UJAO), collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after a tear gas canister exploded near him, according to local journalists. Coulibaly was listed in intensive care late today.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.

Meanwhile, the Ghana based Media Foundation For West African has also reported about the said arrests in Mali. Please read on..

NETWORK OF AFRICAN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ORGANISATIONS (NAFEO)

 

Statement

June 21, 2007

Six citizens jailed for crime of lese-majesty

Seydina Oumar Diarra, journalist at the independent daily newspaper Info-Matin, in Bamako (Mali) is arrested and detained on June 14, 2007. He is charged for an “offence to the Head of State”.

The journalist is being persecuted for an article he wrote which gives attention to an essay a secondary school teacher asked scholars to study.  The subject of the essay is about tumultuous relations between the President of the Republic and his mistress. The story is a fiction.

The teacher, Bassirou Kassim Minta, was also arrested and jailed since June 13, 2007.

On June 20, 2007, the Prosecutor Sombé Théra issued an arrest warrant against four editors. They are Sambi Touré of “Info-Matin”, Mahamane Hamèye Cissé of “Scorpion”, Birama Fall of “Républicain” and Alexis Kalambri of “Les Echos”. The four were also transferred to the Central Prison of Bamako. They are charged for “complicity of offence to the Head of State”. Their newspapers have published the fictional story about the “President of the Republic and his mistress” in solidarity with Seydina Oumar Diarra.

The trial of all the detainees is scheduled for June 26, 2007

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO) is worried about this wave of arrests and persecutions which violate the freedom of expression and academic freedom of citizens.

Mali has made tremendous progress for democratisation since popular actions overthrew the despotic regime of Moussa Traoré in 1991. Media freedom in Mali has until now been one of the progressive examples in Africa. The latest developments are on extreme concern to free expression advocates.

The NAFEO is also concerned about the use by Malian authorities of a seditious and criminal legislation in a democratic context in order to silent media and free speech.

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO):

  1. Condemns the arrest and the detention of the journalists and the teacher;
  2. Appeals to the Malian government to free them unconditionally;
  3. Urge President Amadou Toumani Touré to repeal the obsolete and archaic criminal law of “offence to the Head of State”;
  4. Urge all human rights organisations to work to forestall the subversion of the democratic and human rights gains in Mali

————————————————————-

Issued by NAFEO, Accra, June 21, 2007

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO) promotes and defends freedom of press and expression in the continent. It was established in October 2005 by several significant freedom of expression Organisations in Africa.

For more information, contact

NAFEO Coordinator C/O

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

E-mail: mfwa@africaonline.com.gh with the mention Att: NAFEO

Tel: +233 21 242470

Fax: +233 21 221084

Mobile: +233 246 734 733  

Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 (Archive on Friday, June 29, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
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Committee to Protect Journalists

330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Tel: (212) 465‑1004 Fax: (212) 465‑9568 Web: www.cpj.org E-Mail: info@cpj.org

Tom Rhodes | Africa Program Coordinator | trhodes@cpj.org | (212) 300-9022
Mohamed H. Keita | Africa Program Research Associate | mkeita@cpj.org | (212) 300-9004

More Malian journalists jailed in high school essay crackdown

New York, June 21, 2007—Authorities in the capital Bamako have jailed five journalists in a week—the first arrests in the country since 2003—in the aftermath of an article about a high school essay assignment concerning an imaginary presidential sex scandal.

Director Hameye Cissé of the private weekly Le Scorpion, and directors Birama Fall of Le Républicain, Alexis Kalambry of Les Echos, and Sambi Touré of Info-Matin were jailed in Bamako’s central prison on Wednesday on charges of complicity in an offense against the head of state, according to news reports. The journalists were arrested after their papers reprinted a June 1 story by Info-Matin editor Seydina Oumar Diarra, who was jailed last week.

Diarra’s story, headlined “The Mistress of the President,” featured an interview with a high school teacher and his students regarding an essay assignment about a fictional sex scandal involving an African leader. The teacher told Diarra he assigned the essay in order to make his students explore moral issues.

Director Tiégoum Boubeye Maïga of the private weekly La Nouvelle R épublique said he, too, feared arrest after his paper also reprinted the story this morning, he told CPJ. There was no official reaction from the government, and presidential officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The five defendants are scheduled for trial next Tuesday, according to news reports.

“Rashly throwing journalists in jail for covering a classroom exercise undermines all of the progress that Mali has made regarding press freedom in recent years,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We call on the authorities to release the five journalists immediately and drop all charges against them.”

About 100 journalists marched today to hand a protest letter to the justice minister, Makan Koné, president of the independent press center Maison de la Presse, told CPJ. Ibrahim Famakan Coulibaly, the president of the Bamako-based Union of West African Journalists (known by its French acronym as UJAO), collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after a tear gas canister exploded near him, according to local journalists. Coulibaly was listed in intensive care late today.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit www.cpj.org.

Meanwhile, the Ghana based Media Foundation For West African has also reported about the said arrests in Mali. Please read on..

NETWORK OF AFRICAN FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ORGANISATIONS (NAFEO)

 

Statement

June 21, 2007

Six citizens jailed for crime of lese-majesty

Seydina Oumar Diarra, journalist at the independent daily newspaper Info-Matin, in Bamako (Mali) is arrested and detained on June 14, 2007. He is charged for an “offence to the Head of State”.

The journalist is being persecuted for an article he wrote which gives attention to an essay a secondary school teacher asked scholars to study.  The subject of the essay is about tumultuous relations between the President of the Republic and his mistress. The story is a fiction.

The teacher, Bassirou Kassim Minta, was also arrested and jailed since June 13, 2007.

On June 20, 2007, the Prosecutor Sombé Théra issued an arrest warrant against four editors. They are Sambi Touré of “Info-Matin”, Mahamane Hamèye Cissé of “Scorpion”, Birama Fall of “Républicain” and Alexis Kalambri of “Les Echos”. The four were also transferred to the Central Prison of Bamako. They are charged for “complicity of offence to the Head of State”. Their newspapers have published the fictional story about the “President of the Republic and his mistress” in solidarity with Seydina Oumar Diarra.

The trial of all the detainees is scheduled for June 26, 2007

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO) is worried about this wave of arrests and persecutions which violate the freedom of expression and academic freedom of citizens.

Mali has made tremendous progress for democratisation since popular actions overthrew the despotic regime of Moussa Traoré in 1991. Media freedom in Mali has until now been one of the progressive examples in Africa. The latest developments are on extreme concern to free expression advocates.

The NAFEO is also concerned about the use by Malian authorities of a seditious and criminal legislation in a democratic context in order to silent media and free speech.

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO):

  1. Condemns the arrest and the detention of the journalists and the teacher;
  2. Appeals to the Malian government to free them unconditionally;
  3. Urge President Amadou Toumani Touré to repeal the obsolete and archaic criminal law of “offence to the Head of State”;
  4. Urge all human rights organisations to work to forestall the subversion of the democratic and human rights gains in Mali

————————————————————-

Issued by NAFEO, Accra, June 21, 2007

The Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO) promotes and defends freedom of press and expression in the continent. It was established in October 2005 by several significant freedom of expression Organisations in Africa.

For more information, contact

NAFEO Coordinator C/O

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)

E-mail: mfwa@africaonline.com.gh with the mention Att: NAFEO

Tel: +233 21 242470

Fax: +233 21 221084

Mobile: +233 246 734 733  

Posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 (Archive on Friday, June 29, 2007)
Posted by PNMBAI  Contributed by PNMBAI
Return
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