Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Togo suspends independent journalist

From the International Federation of Journalists:

On 19 February, the High Authority of the Audiovisual and the Communication (HAAC) announced “the definitive suspension of editorials, columns, comments or analyses of Daniel Lawson-Drackey on Nana Fm,” a private radio station in Lomé, the capital city of Togo. The HAAC said that Lawson-Drackey’s radio broadcasts violate the principles of “respect of the dignity of the human person and the ethics in the field of information and communication.”

“We protest against this sanction, which aims to silence a professional journalist whose critical reporting upset the authorities,” said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. “We call on the leaders of the High Authority of the Audiovisual and the Communication to cancel this penalty unconditionally.”

Whither Eyadéma?
On the bright side, this is one of the few press infractions reported from the Togolese government in some time. Since the 2005 election, in fact, according to Reporters Without Borders. The Paris-based press freedom group ranks Togo 49 out of 169 countries in its Press Freedom Index. That's the second-highest position for a West African state (behind Ghana).

Just to show you the difference a few years -- and a different president makes -- here is a snippet of the Reporters Without Borders country survey on Togo from 2004, the last full year of the 38-year Eyadéma mandate:
President Gnassingbé Eyadéma and his government continued to target the independent and opposition press. Two journalists were the victims of ill-treatment while detained. The state-owned press was still strictly controlled by the authorities.

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