Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 13:34 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Mauritania

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1997
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1996 - Mauritania, February 1997, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Authorities persist in their use of the infamous Article 11 of Mauritania's 1991 press ordinance to censor independent journalism. Under the ordinance, the interior minister has the power to ban the distribution and sale of any newspaper or periodical that is likely to harm Islamic principles, state authority, or that jeopardizes public order. In practice, authorities use these broad prescriptions to prevent the distribution of newspapers that touch on sensitive political issues, such as the practice of slavery in Mauritania and the country's October legislative elections.

In many cases, however, authorities do not go to the trouble of publicly invoking the vague language of the press ordinance, choosing instead to confiscate publications without official explanation. This was the case with several newspapers, including the weeklies Teissir, La Tribune, and Al-Akhbar. In contrast, the authorities were careful to spell out the alleged press offenses of the weekly Mauritanie Nouvelles,which was suspended for three months in May for "sow[ing] subversion and harm[ing] the interests of the country." In a separate case in November, authorities slapped a three-month ban on the weekly Le Calme for "harming state interests."

March 13
Mauritanie Nouvelles, CENSORED

The March 17 issue of the independent weekly Mauritanie Nouvelles was seized by order of the Ministry of the Interior. No official explanation for the seizure was given to the paper. The Ministry of the Interior also ordered the weekly's March 24 issue seized, offering no explanation.

April 9
Mauritanie Nouvelles, CENSORED

The Ministry of the Interior ordered the independent weekly Mauritanie Nouvelles suspended for three months. The magazine was informed that it was suspended because it "sowed subversion and harmed the interests of the country."

September 16

The Ministry of the Interior confiscated issues of the weekly Teissir in accordance with Article 11 of the press law. The authorities provided no official reason for the confiscation, but some Mauritanian journalists speculated that an article on political rivalries in the government was the cause.

October 26

The Ministry of the Interior banned the weekly Le Calme for three months under Article 11 of the press law. Authorities charged the paper with "harming state interests" but cited no specific reason for the ban. Observers in Mauritania suspect that the government's move might be connected to an article Le Calme published the previous week calling for the cancellation of recent legislative election results.

December 9
La Tribune, CENSORED

Authorities banned the Dec. 9 edition of the independent weekly La Tribune, invoking Article 11 of the press law. The government offered no official reason for its action, although the newspaper's editor believed that the paper was banned because of an article on slavery in Mauritania.

December 18

Authorities confiscated issues of the Dec. 15 edition of the Arabic-language weekly Al-Akhbar, using Article 11 of the press law. No official reason was given for the confiscation, although journalists suspect that it was because of an article about prostitution in the capital, Nouakchott.

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