President of Chad's Transition Council Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno is seen in N'Djamena on August 11, 2023. Authorities recently suspended the news website Alwihda Info over its coverage of the president. (AFP/Denis Sassou Gueipeur)

Chadian news website Alwihda Info suspended over coverage of president

Dakar, August 25, 2023 – The Committee to Protect Journalists on Friday called for authorities in Chad to immediately reverse the suspension of the privately owned ​​news website Alwihda Info and stop censoring news outlets for their work.

“Chadian authorities should reverse their decision to suspend Alwihda Info at once and ensure media outlets do not face retaliation for covering issues of public interest,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator in Durban, South Africa. “Chadian journalists must be able to criticize authorities and cover public institutions, including the military, without fear of sanction.”

On Friday, August 25, Chad’s High Media and Audiovisual Authority regulator suspended Alwihda Info for eight days starting Saturday, according to a copy of that decision and Djimet Wiché, the outlet’s publishing director, who spoke to CPJ. Wiché said the outlet would comply with the suspension and halt publications on its website and social media starting Saturday.

The decision accused Alwihda Info of broadcasting “insulting remarks” about the president and remarks that were “of a nature undermining the cohesion and discipline within the army.”

Idriss Déby Itno, known as Mahamat Kaka, has been Chad’s transitional president since the 2021 death of his father.

The regulator’s order cited two reports by the outlet: one, on August 19, about Kaka’s dismissal of an army colonel, and another, on August 21, criticizing a speech by Kaka about conflict in the country’s north. The order said that more severe sanctions would follow in the event of recidivism.

CPJ called the regulator’s president, Abderamane Barka, and numbers publicly listed on the regulator’s website for comment, but received no replies.