Monday, June 25, 2007

freedom of press under attack in Mali, West Africa

Those of you who know me, know that I love Mali. So I was very sad to read this today, that 5 journalists were arrested and jailed for "insulting the president". Man, if only they'd institute that here in the good ol' us of a. we'd have us a even more overcrowded prison situation, and as a bonus, we could probably put a dent in the racial inequality of the prison-industrial-complex. . . .
anyway, on to the real story here:

Mali papers protest against arrest of journos
June 26 2007 at 01:25AM

Bamako - Mali was without independent newspapers on Monday in protest over the arrest of five journalists and a school teacher arrested on charges of insulting the president.

Only four papers, among them the state daily L'Essor, appeared on the streets of the capital Bamako, compared to about 20 that normally roll off the presses. But those published were not easily available at the usual newsstands.

"There is real solidarity around the jailing of our fellow members. The place for a journalist is in a newsroom and not a prison," said Makan Kone, president of Press House, which groups Malian journalists associations.

The boycott was also heeded by most private radio stations broadcasting in the capital which played only music and repeatedly ran the statement calling for the observation of the "no press day".

The boycott was also heeded by most private radio stations
Authorities in the west African nation have been under pressure to release the six who were arrested over an article on a school essay a school teacher gave to his students about an imaginary president's mistress.

High school students were tasked to write about an imagined female student and prostitute who battles for recognition of her out-of-wedlock child after being made pregnant by a fictitious president.

Four privately-owned newspapers commented on the essay assignment, but state prosecutors said they had offended President Amadou Toumani Toure. The president has not commented since the arrests.

The journalists, who ranged from reporters to newspaper editors, from Info-Matin, Le Republicain, Les Echos and Le Scorpion newspapers, were arrested more than a week ago and were due top appear in court on Tuesday.

If convicted, the defendants risk a six-month prison term and a maximum fine of about $1 200 (about R8 600). - Sapa-AFP

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