Attacks on the Press 2000: Mauritania

THE GOVERNMENT CONTINUED TO PROSCRIBE OUTSPOKEN PUBLICATIONS under Article 11 of the 1991 Press Ordinance, which gives authorities power to ban any newspaper deemed detrimental to Islam or state authority, threatening to public order, or defamatory to foreign heads of state.

During 2000, several independent newspapers were confiscated or suspended for long periods. Victims included the newspapers L’Eveil Hebdo, La Tribune, Le Carrefour, Inimich, El-Qods, and Al-Alam. Some papers, including La Tribune, were sanctioned more than once, for offences ranging from coverage of Islamist militants to criticism of the government and interviews with exiled opposition figures.

The shaky financials of most newspapers make them particularly vulnerable to arbitrary closures. Some newspapers have been put out of business due to repeated censorship. As a result, Mauritanian newspapers have shown increasing reluctance to cover politically sensitive issues.