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Chad: Radio Station Closed

(Feb. 2, 2008) On January 16, 2008, police in Chad's capital city, M'Djamena, raided a privately-owned radio station and closed it. Radio FM Liberté's manager, Djekourninga Kaoutar Lazar, was arrested the same day. When the 15 policemen entered the radio station's studios, they asked to see the manager, who was not present, and then asked to inspect all the news programs broadcast that week. The station refused, stating that the inspection of programming was a task assigned to the High Council for Communication, not the police. At that time, the police shut down the station, arrested the editorial coordinator Madji Madji Odjitan, and took him to the police station, where he remained for several hours until Lazar came in himself. Lazar is being held by the criminal investigation department, though no official explanation for his arrest was released at the time. Radio Liberté had carried commentators' criticisms of Chadian government supporters' demonstrations against what they feel is aggression from Sudan in the eastern part of Chad, bordering Sudan.

Calling for a an explanation of the raid on the station, the group Reporters Without Borders said,

  • A raid on a respected radio station, its arbitrary closure and the arrest of its manager are methods one uses with gangsters. … It is not a crime to express an opinion that does not concur with government policy. On the contrary, it is the press and public's inalienable right. The government should act with restraint, even in a period of crisis, and should provide the public with an explanation for this show of force.

(Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, Chad: Police Close Down N'Djamena Radio Station, Arrest Manager (Jan. 17, 2008), available at http://allafrica.com/stories/200801170716.html.)