Chad - N'Djamena press reappears for first time since state of emergency proclaimed

    MONTREAL, March 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders provided
financial support for the publication today in N'Djamena of a "newspaper of
newspapers," a single issue combining most of the independent Chadian weeklies
that have not appeared since a state of emergency was proclaimed on
15 February. It calls for the repeal of a press law imposed by decree on
20 February.
    "The independent N'Djamena-based press is showing a united front to the
government with this single issue at time when many journalists are in exile
and there is a great deal of fear and uncertainty about the future," Reporters
Without Borders said. "By working together, the independent press has found a
way to return to work and to demand, with a single voice, the repeal of an
archaic law adopted in unfair circumstances."
    The Professional Association of Chadian Media decided on 20 March, in
coordination with Reporters Without Borders, to bring out a joint publication
which would be produced by the staff of the capital four main newspapers -
N'Djaména Bi-Hebdo, L'Observateur, Le Temps and Le Miroir - and which would
display the logos of Notre Temps (closed since 15 December) and radio FM
Liberté (closed by the police on 16 February).
    With a print run of 10,000 copies and selling for 200 CFA francs, the
16-page issue contains an appeal for press freedom in Chad and, in particular,
for the repeal of Decree No. 5 on the press, which was issued on 20 February.
    This law increased the maximum penalty for "false news" and defamation
(articles 41 and 47) to three years in prison and the maximum penalty for
"insulting the president" (article 48) to five years. Under article 15 of the
old law, anyone wanting to launch a newspaper just had to file a declaration
with the ministry of commerce. Now they have to appear before the prosecutor's
office and the High Council of Communication.
    The law was suddenly imposed after two years of difficult negotiations
between the government and the privately-owned press aimed at reforming the
previous law in accordance with a promise which President Idriss Déby Itno
made to Reporters Without Borders in September 2005.

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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