Abderamane Boukar Koyon, the editor of the satirical newspaper Le Moustik, and Martin Inoua Doulguet, the editor of the quarterly Salam Info, have been held in the capital’s Amsinéné prison since 16 August – in violation of Chad’s print and electronic media law – because of a defamation suit by former health minister Toupta Boguéna.
The former minister sued them in connection with their coverage of her recent trial on a charge of “sexual assault on a minor,” which was the result of a complaint brought against her by her niece.
Issue no. 84 (19-26 June) of Le Moustik alluded satirically to the case without naming those involved. In a 14 July post on the Salam Info Facebook page, Doulguet quoted the comments made by the lawyer representing Boguéna’s niece when he announced that he intended to appeal against Boguéna’s acquittal.
Doulguet’s lawyer, Olivier Gouara, told RSF that the detention of the two journalists “violates the law governing the press.” He also accused the prosecutor of committing “a procedural irregularity” by ordering their summary arrest for offences not punishable by imprisonment when “the normal procedure would be to issue a summons to appear in court.”
Koyon and Doulguet are due to be brought before a judge on 22 August.
“As defamation has not been punishable by imprisonment in Chad since 2010, detaining these two journalists preventively is not only completely absurd but also illegal and shows what little attention the authorities pay to the press law,” RSF’s Africa desk said. “These journalists must be freed at once, without waiting for this case to be heard.”
Two days after launching his newspaper in the capital, Doulguet had already been detained in February 2018 on the grounds that his publication permit covered only the south of the country.
Despite the decriminalization of press offences, journalism is often obstructed in Chad. Recent major obstacles have included the disconnection of social networks, which continued for more than a year and was ended by President Idriss Déby Itno only last month.
Chad is ranked 122nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.