Mauritania ALERT: Newspaper banned

The Mauritania Ministry of Interior, Posts and Telecommunications has banned the Arabic language weekly newspaper, ERRAYA. The paper’s premises have also been closed down by the police and the editor-in chief, Ahmedou Ould Wediaa, who had declared an intention to appeal the ban, has not been seen since May 30, 2003.

Although no specific offence was cited, a statement from the Ministry on May 29 accused the paper of “subversion and intolerance.”

The Ministry of Interior routinely invokes a 1991 Law on Press Freedom in Mauritania, Act 91-023, to censor or ban publications that are considered critical of the government. Article 11 of the said law provides in part that, “The circulation, dissemination or sale … of newspapers or periodicals … likely to undermine the principles of Islam or the image of the State, to harm the public good, to compromise public order and security, whatever the language in which it is written, may be banned by an order from the Ministry of the Interior.”

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) is worried about the state of media freedom and freedom of expression in Mauritania. We appeal to the government of President Maaouiya Ould Sid’Ahmed Taya to guarantee the security of Ahmedou Ould Wediaa and lift the ban imposed on his newspaper.

The MFWA requests you to kindly make a protest against the repressive press law in Mauritania.

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