New York, August 15, 2005—A Chadian journalist was sentenced to one year in prison today for “inciting hatred”, the fourth reporter jailed in a month in what local journalists called a growing crackdown on the independent press.
A court in the capital N’Djamena convicted Sy Koumbo Singa Gali, publication director of the privately-owned weekly L’Observateur, after she published an interview with freelance journalist and government critic Garondé Djarma, her lawyer told CPJ.
Djarma was sentenced on July 18 to three years in jail for defamation and “inciting hatred”.
Djarma criticized a July constitutional referendum allowing President Idriss Déby to run for a third term next year. In the interview with Sy he accused Arab “janjaweed” members of the Chadian government of conspiring to silence him because of his coverage of the conflict between Arabs and black Africans in the neighboring Darfur province of Sudan.
“This recent pattern in which four independent Chadian journalists have been jailed for their work is alarming,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of CPJ. “However provocative the interview there can be no grounds for jailing a journalist simply for doing his work. We call on the authorities to ensure that those imprisoned for their journalistic work are freed at once,” Cooper added.
Sy’s interview with Djarma appeared shortly before his conviction. (To read more about Garondé Djarma’s case, see CPJ’s July 18 alert:)
The court today handed Djarma a separate one-year prison sentence and fined Djarma and Sy 200,000 CFA francs (U.S. $380) each.
Sy’s lawyer, Sobdjibe Zoua, told CPJ that the court did not specify whether Djarma’s additional one-year term would run concurrently with his three-year sentence or consecutively.
Two other journalists have been jailed for their work — Michaël Didama, publication director of the private weekly Le Temps, and Ngaradoumbé Samory, publication director of L’Observateur. To read more about their cases, see CPJ’s alerts of August 8 and July 18.