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(Jun 11, 2010) It was reported on June 8, 2010, that Chad's parliament, the National Assembly, adopted a bill on broadcast media during its last session but rejected a print media bill. The print media bill, submitted to it by the government's Committee on Communication, Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, would have replaced Decree No. 5 of February 20, 2008, deemed by the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders as "a very repressive decree issued in exceptional circumstances." (Chad Parliament Stops Harsh Press Law, AFROL NEWS, June 8, 2010, available at http://www.afrol.com/articles/36284.)

The bill shortened, but did not eliminate, prison sentences stipulated under Decree No. 5, substituting one to three months' punishment for offenses punishable by two months to 5 years of imprisonment. It also provided for a special offense of "insulting the president" and was viewed as granting too much power to country's media regulatory agency, the High Council for Communication (HCC). (Id.)

In submitting the bill to the National Assembly, the government had ignored experts' urging that Decree No. 5 be repealed and "the more liberal" Law No. 29 of 1994 be amended instead as the basis of a new law. The parliamentary rejection of the bill means the abrogaton of the Decree and reinstatement of Law No. 29 of 1994. (Id.)

Chadian journalists had been highly critical of the bill and of the government attempt to force its passage without debate by means of an emergency procedure. Evariste Ngarlem Toldé, President of the Union of Chadian Journalists, points out, moreover:

But the battle is far from won … The National Assembly passed a special powers act the same day. It allows the government to adopt any bill by decree from 3 June to 4 October. We fear the government will use this provision to quickly come back with a new bill before October. We must get down to work with the National Assembly and other Chadian organisations to propose a new, consensus bill to the government. (Id.)

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the National Assembly's rejection of the bill and urged Chadian authorities "to move resolutely ahead on the decriminalisation of press offences and to give priority to dialogue with organisations that defend journalists in order to reach a consensus on a new bill that will meet with the National Assembly's approval." (Still Repressive Print Media Bill Rejected in Parliamentary Vote, June 4, 2010, Reporters Without Borders website, available at http://en.rsf.org/chad-still-repressive-print-media-bill-04-06-2010,3767
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Author: Wendy Zeldin More by this author
Topic: Freedom of the press More on this topic
Jurisdiction: Chad More about this jurisdiction

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Last updated: 06/11/2010