The first victim was Radio Soleil, which the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC) closed on 29 November on the grounds that it was transmitting from a place 20 km away from its original location. The station’s management insists that it notified the HAAC of the change of address by letter.
Radio Soleil is owned by Sébastien Adjavon, a wealthy businessmen who was an unsuccessful candidate in the March presidential election. Since then he has been the target of an investigation for alleged drug trafficking.
On 30 Novembre, the HAAC shut down three TV stations – Sikka TV, Eden TV and E-télé – on similar grounds. Adjavon is also the owner of Sikka TV, while Eden TV is owned by his former campaign manager, now a parliamentarian. E-télé supports former President Boni Yayi.
The HAAC did not warn any of these media outlets in advance that they were to be shut down and gave them no opportunity to address the problems cited as grounds for their closure.
“The closure of these four media outlets is out of all proportion to the bureaucratic irregularities of which they are accused,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Africa desk at RSF.
“It is hard not to regard these closures as politically-motivated. We urge the authorities not to embark on the road of media censorship and harassment, especially as Benin has until now been cited as an example of respect for media freedom.”
Benin is ranked 78th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.