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» 08.06.2010 - Chad parliament stops harsh press law
» 18.02.2010 - Chad’s call for military withdrawal alarms UN
» 19.01.2010 - Chad appeals for extended peacekeeping mission
» 04.01.2010 - Court to rule on fate of local paper Thursday
» 21.12.2009 - Peacekeepers come under attack in Chad
» 16.12.2009 - Chadian forces launch attacks against rebels
» 11.11.2009 - ICRC appeals for release of two kidnapped staff
» 19.10.2009 - Central Africa's peace process still a long way, Ban

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Society | Media

Chad private radio wins case against govt

afrol News, 9 June - The Supreme Court of Chad has decided that the government was not allowed to close down the privately-owned radio station 'FM Liberté' late last year after it had aired comments critical to President Idriss Deby. The court further ruled that the state would have to pay damages to the media.

In an extraordinary victory for press freedom in Chad, the administrative chamber of N'djamena's Supreme Court, in the Chadian capital, on 2 June ordered the government to pay six million CFA francs (US$ 11,200) in damages to the N'djamena-based community radio station 'FM Liberté', for losses incurred when the station was forced to close between 21 October and 9 December 2003.

On 21 October last year, Chadian Interim Security Minister Routouang Yoma Golom had ordered the radio station closed "indefinitely" for "illegal operation" and "deviant behaviour", following the broadcast of a report that was very critical of President Deby.

'Radio FM Liberté', which is known to have close ties to Chadian human rights organisations, had compared President Deby to Hissčne Habré, the former Chadian dictator (1982-1990), and accused him of having "brought in predators, destroyers of the economy and professional killers who hold the power of life and death over other citizens."

The radio station was criticising the persistent climate of insecurity in the country and called on President Deby to take the necessary steps to resolve the problem. A few days later, the station's editor-in-chief, Dobian Assingar, was ordered to see the national media regulating body and the Security Ministry issued a decree, closing down 'Liberté FM'.

Chadian authorities on many occasions are reported to have harassed the independent media due to the content of its programmes. During the 2001 presidential election, the station was ordered to stop broadcasting political debates. The following year, 'FM-Liberté' was suspended for three weeks for "disrupting public order" after reporting on a student demonstration in Cameroon.

Currently, 'FM Liberté' lives under a renewed threat of closure by the High Council for Communications after it had aired a commercial, in which a collective of civil society groups commented on the draft amendment to the country's Constitution, which opens up for a lifetime presidency for Mt Deby.

In their commercial, the civil society groups urged Chadian citizens to launch a one-day strike action and reject the proposed constitutional amendment. Also the Chadian opposition had called the nation's citizens to mark their protest by a general strike on 26 May, which also was widely observed in N'djamena.

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