CPJ urges lift of suspension on Swazi publications

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed grave concern over the "unwarranted suspensions" of Swaziland's private weekly Guardian and the monthly Nation.
In an open letter to King Mswati III, the New York-based Committee Friday urged the government to lift the suspension.
It noted that on 2 May, police arrested the Guardian's Editor, Thulani Mthethwa, and drove him to police headquarters in Mbabane where he was interrogated at length over stories in his newspaper about activities in the King's palace.
The journalist was released after several hours.
On 4 May, the Committee said that Swazi's newly-appointed Registrar of Newspapers, Sam Malinga, ordered the Guardian to cease publishing immediately, saying that the publication was not lawfully registered with his office.
The same day, police impounded all the copies of the current issue of the Guardian at the South African border (the paper is printed in Middleburg, South Africa) In an "Extraordinary Gazette Order," government suspended both the Guardian and the Nation, citing a Section of the Proscribed Publications Act of 1968, under which publications can be banned or suspended for failure to conform with "Swazi morality and ideals.
" Editors for the Guardian and the Nation were due to appear in court 11 May.
The CPJ charged that the "function of the Registrar of Newspapers is to inhibit the work of the independent press.
Evidence of this is the fact that the new Registrar was appointed in an ad-hoc fashion on May 3, only a day before he took action against the Guardian.
" "CPJ denounces the suspension of these two independent publications, an action we believe to be part of an orchestrated campaign to root out critical voices in the kingdom," the Committee said.
CPJ said it "believes that journalists must be free to report on their governments.
The freedom to seek, receive, and impart information is a right afforded all people, regardless of the form of government under which they live, under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
" It urged the Swazi monarch to "unconditionally reverse the suspension of the Guardian and the Nation and to order government officials to stop harassing the newspapers.

11 may 2001 16:55:00

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