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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press

Posted: January 29, 2004

Chériff Haïdara, Sido
Mamoutou Traoré, Sido
Gata Ba, Sido

According to local sources, police in Ségou, a city in southern Mali, arrested three journalists with the privately owned Sido radio station. Host Haïdara, radio director Traoré, and reporter and host Ba were arrested on October 20, 24, and 26, respectively.

In early October, the station aired a report criticizing a court ruling made in Ségou against a nearby village association that had been in dispute with a local bank. The court ruled that livestock should be confiscated from villagers to settle the association's debt to the bank. The radio broadcast interviews with angry villagers, who criticized debt collectors for confiscating the animals.

On October 14, after the report aired, several debt collectors entered the radio station and confiscated broadcasting equipment, a computer, cassette decks, mixers, and other materials, said local sources. With the help of Moussa Kéita, the president of Mali's High Council on Communications, the equipment was returned the same day. According to KÈita, the debt collectors' confiscation of the equipment came in reprisal for the station's reporting.

The journalists were released on November 18, after a judicial hearing in Sédou. A lawyer representing the journalists said they would likely face trial. The journalists are accused of "opposing legitimate authorities," "insulting police agents," "broadcasting false news," and defamation, the lawyer said.