Mauritania ALERT: Police attack journalists

Journalists from the private press in Mauritania – among them, Abdrahmane Ould Horma Ould Babana, President of the Committee for the Respect of Ethics (CRED) – were, on April 18, 2002, singled out and violently assaulted by anti-riot police.

The journalists were covering a peaceful demonstration organised by civil society groups in the country, in support of the struggle of the Palestinian people. The government has, to date, ignored calls for an enquiry into this latest attack on journalists in the country. Barely a week earlier, on April 12, 2002, Mohamed Fall ould Oumčre, editor of the independent weekly, La Tribune, was arrested and detained at the Police CID Headquarters for nine days, without charge or trial. His family were also denied any access to him during the entire period of his incarceration, in spite of concerns about his failing health.

Mr Oumčre’s detention is thought to have been related to his suspected association with the organisation, Consciousness and Resistance,” an “underground” movement which has been critical of the 18 years rule of President Maaouiya oud Sid’Ahmed Taya. A story carried in the March 25, 2002 edition of the La Tribune newspaper had reported that “Consciousness and Resistance” was due to publish its manifesto.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) strongly condemns the attacks and arrests of journalists in Mauritania. The MFWA urges the government to respect the rights of journalists and all other persons to their fundamental freedoms of speech, expression and association in the country.

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