FEBRUARY 6, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004
Nadjikimo Bénoudjita, Notre Temps
Mbainaye Bétoubam, Notre Temps
A court in the capital, N'Djamena, convicted Bénoudjita, publisher
of the private weekly Notre Temps, and Bétoubam, an editor
at the paper, of criminal defamation and sentenced each to six months
in prison. The court also ordered each journalist to pay US$3,300 in damages
and banned the men from practicing journalism in Chad. Notre Temps,
one of the country's leading independent publications, was ordered closed
for three months.
Bétoubam, who could not appear in court because of an illness,
was detained at his home by police upon the verdict's announcement and
was driven in handcuffs to N'Djamena's Central Prison.
The case against Bénoudjita and Bétoubam stemmed from a
complaint filed against Notre Temps by President Idriss Deby's
mother-in-law, Hadjé Billy Douga. In late 2002, Douga, who is also
director of social affairs at the Ministry of Social Action and Women's
Affairs, accused Notre Temps of damaging her reputation by publishing
an article alleging that she had ordered the torture of three men accused
of stealing jewelry from her N'Djamena residence.
Bénoudjita and Bétoubam stand by the report's accuracy,
maintaining that the article was based on allegations contained in N'Djamena
Appeals Court documents. The two journalists were freed on April 1 pending
OCTOBER 21, 2003
Posted: October 27, 2003
Dobian Assingar, FM Liberté
Chadian authorities shuttered the private, independent radio station
FM Liberté after it broadcast a report criticizing Chadian President
Idriss Déby by comparing him to former dictator Hissène
Habré, whose eight-year rule was marked by vast human rights violations.
An order signed by Minister of Public Safety Abdramane Moussa said the
radio was closed indefinitely for "illegal operation and deviant behavior."
The station's report alleged that, "President Déby has brought
us predators, economic gravediggers, and hired killers, who have complete
control over citizens' lives."
According to a source at FM Liberté, the day the order was signed,
police officers arrested the station's director, Assingar, brought him
to the outlet's offices, and ordered him to close the station himself.
Once Assingar had told his colleagues that the station was closed, the
officers returned him to his home.
On December 16, FM Liberté received authorization to broadcast
again. They resumed operations on December 20, according to Assingar.