Mauritania ALERT: Newspaper publication seized again

The Ministry of Interior, Posts and Telecommunications has seized Issue No. 7 of July 24, 2002, of the Le Renovateur, an independent bi-monthly newspaper.

According to Cheikh Tidiane Dia, editor of the paper, no official explanation was given for the seizure, although he suspects that the Ministry may have been unhappy about an article on foreign exchange and the increase in the prices of essential goods in the country. The Ministry of Interior routinely invokes Article 11 of the July 25, 1991 Law on Press Freedom in Mauritania, Act 91-023, to seize publications that are deemed to be “likely to undermine the principles of Islam or the image of the State, to harm the public good, to compromise public order and security.”

Dia informed MFWA-Mauritania that he received notification of the seizure on July 30, one week after the issue in question had been duly registered. Newspapers in Mauritania are required to deposit five copies of each new issue at the Ministry of Interior for what amounts to prior censorship, before circulation.

The MFWA condemns the seizure of the Le Renovateur, newspaper, and appeals to the government to repeal the obnoxious 1991 press law. The law encourages the arbitrary and unwarranted clamp down on free expression and the media in the country. Please make a protest about the frequent seizures of newspapers in Mauritania.

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