5 July 2006

Niger: Weekly Newspaper Banned By Government for Article On President

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The following is a WAN letter to Prime Minister Hama Amadou:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications in 102 countries, to express our serious concern at the banning of the weekly L'Opinion.

According to reports, on 28 June Le Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC), which regulates the country's media, banned the independent weekly L'Opinion for publishing "slanderous and injurious remarks" about President Mamadou Tandja. The banning order came in response to an article appearing on 21 June entitled "The Imposter", which claimed there were similarities between President Tandja and former president General Seïni Kountché. The CSC also described the article as "an incitement to revolt".

L'Opinion reportedly plans to appeal against the decision.

We respectfully remind you that the banning of L'Opinion constitutes a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media, regardless of frontiers."

We respectfully call on you to ensure that the order banning L'Opinion is immediately lifted and that it is permitted to publish free from CSC interference. We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that in future your country fully observes international standards of freedom of expression.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin O'Reilly President World Association of Newspapers

George Brock President World Editors Forum

RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Similar appeals can be sent to:

The Right Honourable Hama Amadou Prime Minister of Niger c/o HE Ousmane Moutari Permanent Representative to UN E-mail: niger@un.int

Please copy appeals to WAN.

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