Authorities Censor Reporting on Devastating Drought, Seize Reporters’ Equipment

Gendarmes in Mauritania have confiscated the equipment of a three-man crew of journalists from the independent daily, ALAKHBAR.

The paramilitary officers seized the equipment on April 29, 2018 to enforce their order that the journalists should stop reporting on the plight of the population in a drought-stricken Temesah community of the Hodh El Chargui region.

The reporters had been on the field since April 16 taking pictures of the situation and interviewing the affected locals. The publication of these reports are said to have stirred strong public sentiments about the suffering of the drought-hit pastoral community.

The MFWA’s correspondent in Mauritania says the prevention of journalists from covering the drought is for political gain as the deadly effects of the drought could be a major campaign issue as the country head into legislative and municipal elections in November 2018 and presidential elections in 2019.

This is the second time in two months that the authorities in the country have censored journalists reporting on issues that they (the authorities) deem politically sensitive. On March 20, 2018, a Franco-Moroccan journalist who was gathering information about slavery in the country, was arrested and his recordings deleted before being deported after spending three days in detention.

The MFWA condemns the resort to censorship by the authorities in Mauritania in their bid to keep unpleasant news from the public. This is a violation of citizens’ right to be informed which is a fundamental right recognised by the Mauritanian constitution. We call for an end to the muzzling of the media and a return to the Al Akbar crew of its seized equipment.

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