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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

FEBRUARY 6, 2003
Posted: January 29, 2004

Nadjikimo Bénoudjita, Notre Temps
Mbainaye Bétoubam, Notre Temps
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 an appeal.

OCTOBER 21, 2003
Posted: October 27, 2003

FM Liberté
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.