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Two journalists sentenced to six-month prison terms

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is expressing concern further to the sentencing of two
journalists to six-month prison terms. According to RSF's information, on 15
December 1998, Edouard Loko and Septime Tolli, chief editor and journalist,
respectively, with the independent daily "Le Progrès" (Progress), were
sentenced to six-month prison terms for slander. This sentencing follows the
filing of a complaint by Abayomi Ganioupar, former director of the Akpakpa
college. Ganioupar is criticising the newspaper for having published an
article in its 31 August edition accusing him of having poorly managed a
fund which was intended for summer placement courses. The litigant had
already obtained a correction from the newspaper and had agreed to withdraw
his complaint.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the Justice Minister:
  • expressing concern about the severity of decisions made by judges
    inpress-related matters and recalling that this sentence adds itself to the 17
    November sentencing of two journalists from the daily "Les Echos du jour"
    (see IFEX alert of 19 November 1998)
  • expressing the opinion that a penalty should not be disproportionate to
    the crime committed, and reminding him that in a document dated 14 July
    1992, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights underlined that as a
    form of punishment for expressing one's opinion, detention constitutes one
    of the most reprehensible means of imposing silence and, as such, a serious
    violation of human rights
  • expressing hope that he will intervene so that the public prosecutor will
    allow a suspended sentence for Loko and Tolli during the appeal

    Appeals To

    Mr. Joseph Gnonlonfoun
    Minister of Justice
    Cotonou, Bénin

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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