Monday, October 22, 2007

Press freedom in West Africa?

One month, four journalists detained in West Africa.

On October 8, the government of democratic hot-shot Senegal had an editor abducted, beaten and jailed for insulting the president, according to Reporters Without Borders.

In Nigeria, members of the State Security Service beat and arrested an editor on October 10 for accusing the State Governor of “corruption,” the Paris-based press group says.

It’s already October 22 and journalist Moussa Kaka begins his second month in prison in Niger. The government claimed the journalist for Radio France Internationale was conspiring with Tuareg rebels. In other news: The government arrested Ibrahim Manzo Diallo, a independent bi-monthly in Agadez, on October 9. Diallo was boarding a plane to France in Niamey when he was arrested. Authorities interrogated him throughout the night and then transported him to Agadez, where a state of emergency is in force.

State of emergency
In August, the area of the northern Sahara saw an increase in Tuareg violence, which is due to the failed implementation of the 1995 peace agreements between the Governments of Mali and Niger and the Tuaregs. Complaints stem from underrepresentation for the Tuareg people in the respective capitals of Bamako and Niamey; and, severe economic hardship. At least one observer claims the violence also stems from Tuareg concerns over the sharing of resources, such as gold, oil and uranium. The governments of Niger and Mali claim the rebels are not representative of regular people, but groups linked drug smugglers and other criminal activities which profit from instability.

In Niger, the state of emergency powers allow the government to forbid the broadcasting of any stories on the situation in the north.

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