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Recent attacks on freedom of expression

(IFJ/IFEX) - The IFJ is disturbed by recent attacks on freedom of expression
in Madagascar.

According to the IFJ's information, on 6 May 1999, Limby Maharavo, the head
of the minister of culture and information's cabinet, gave an order banning
James Ramarosaona, president of the Madagascar Order of Journalists, from
appearing on Malagasy public television (TVM). Ramarosaona had been invited
by Johary Ravoajanahary, a leading journalist with TVM, to a debate on the
theme of journalists' freedoms and responsibilities, on a weekly debating
programme named "Varo-Jabo".

Unfortunately, this ban was issued on the day after celebrations marking
World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, which were led by Ramarosaona. This day was
an opportunity to demand the establishment of an Audiovisual Upper Council
(Haut Conseil
Audiovisuel), as well as an end to interference with editorial independence.
The Audiovisual Upper Council would replace the Special Commission on
Audiovisual Communication (Commission spéciale à la Communication
Audiovisuelle), an interministerial commission which recently issued an
ultimatum to Radio Antsiva, the capital's private radio station, for having
allowed Jean-Claude Raherimanjato, an opposition leader, to criticise the

Finally, on 12 May, the trial of journalist Maka Alphonse is taking place.
The journalist is being tried for having distributed false information
concerning the minister of health, Henriette Rahantalalao.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the president:
  • expressing the opinion that all these incidents represent attacks on
    freedom of expression in Madagascar
  • expressing your concern that the authorities seem to believe that
    ministers and the head of state benefit from a special protection against
  • explaining that this is contrary to international standards, which
    consider that public figures are in a position to accept greater criticism
    than private citizens
  • asking him to do everything in his power to ensure that the Audiovisual
    Upper Council is created, that attacks against journalists cease, and that
    Ramarosaona, president of the Order of Journalists, be allowed to
    participate in public media broadcasts, especially national television, if
    invited for an interview

    Appeals To

    His Excellency Didier Ratsiraka
    Iavoloha Antananarivo

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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