- A Tunisian editor, trying to publish her independent weekly newspaper 'Kalima', has been blocked by the government for the third time in five years. Also the foreign-hosted website is blocked in Tunisia.
The French group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) today accuses the Tunisian authorities of blocking the development of an independent press in the country after journalist Sihem Bensedrine failed in her attempt to register the weekly newspaper 'Kalima'.
Ms Bensedrine again was turned away when she tried to begin the registration process for the bilingual publication at the Interior Ministry's offices in Tunis on 13 January 2004.
This is the third time since 1999 that Ms Bensedrine has attempted to file a "preliminary statement" for 'Kalima' with the Interior Ministry. A home-produced version of the newspaper is currently published on an irregular basis and distributed unofficially.
The Tunisian editor also produces an online version of her weekly newspaper. But Kalima's website, which is hosted abroad, continues to be blocked by the Tunisian government and cannot be seen within Tunisia.
Anticipating a setback at the Ministry's offices, Ms Bensedrine decided to invite witnesses to observe her request for registration. Kalima's editorial committee, her lawyer, Member of Parliament Mokhtar Djalali and Tunisian Human Rights League President Mokhtar Trifi accompanied the journalist.
All witnesses could testify to the Ministry's blocking. "She was once again able to show proof of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's refusal to liberalise the press in Tunisia," RSF noted.
On 14 January, Ms Bensedrine was subjected to a particularly thorough search at Tunis airport before boarding a flight to Germany. A copy of 'Kalima' was confiscated from her as well as three CD-ROMs containing personal data.
Further, on 5 January, Ms Bensedrine was the victim of an assault that she believes was linked to her strong stand in support of free expression in Tunisia, according to RSF.
- This latest unsuccessful attempt to publish the newspaper 'Kalima' provides additional evidence of the Tunisian authorities' determination to keep the press under control,' said RSF Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a statement today.
- President Ben Ali has publicly declared his support for freedom of information but deliberately prevents the creation of an independent press, Mr Ménard added. "Against this backdrop, the holding of the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis in 2005 is a scandal."
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.