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Radio station suspended for 30 days

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 4 November 2009, Benin's media regulatory body, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC) suspended for thirty days Capp FM, a privately-owned Cotonu-based radio station, for hosting a civil society programme that the HAAC considered could endanger the security of the state.

The programme "La Voix de la Sentinelle" ("The Voice of the Watchdog") is a one-hour weekly religious programme. It is broadcast in two languages, French and Fon, which is widely spoken in Southern Benin.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the sponsors of the programme "Etoile brillante du Matin" ("Shining Morning Star"), a non-governmental organization, and the host Valdave Emilia Dagnonhoueton have also been suspended from broadcasting or publishing any material in the country for six months.

The correspondent said the suspensions came after a public hearing in which the directors of the station admitted publicly that they had failed to live up to their professional responsibilities regarding the 3 November edition of the programme because they had not listened to the content before it was aired. That particular programme was said to be critical of President Yayi Boni's administration. During the programme, Valdave Emilia Dagnonhouéton stated that "finally, everything has come to light and we have all understood", in reference to developments under President Boni's administration.

According to the HAAC, the statement by the host was "extremely serious and endangered national cohesion and peace", hence the ban.

MFWA is appalled by this vicious attempt at sabotaging media freedom and freedom of expression. We urge the HAAC to lift the suspension and allow the media and citizens to operate freely without fear of intimidation.

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