FRANCE 24 correspondent in Chad Sonia Rolley was forced to leave the country after the government withdrew her work permit. The French foreign ministry said it "regretted" the decision. (Report: A. Renard/C.Norris-Trent)
French journalist Sonia Rolley, who reported for Radio France International (RFI) and FRANCE 24, was forced to return to France from Chad on Thursday after the government withdrew her press accreditation definitively . No reasons were given for Rolly's expulsion, who has been based in Chad since 2006.
The withdrawal of her work permit reflects the government's hardening stance towards the press in the past few months. "A radio and a magazine were closed down much before the rebel attack in N'Djamena" says Sonia Rolley. "During the state of emergency (following a rebel uprising), a new law for the media was implemented. Many Chadian journalists fear they won't be able to continue work."
Chadian authorities took the step despite French President Nicoals Sarkozy's intervention in February 2008. Sarkozy had raised the issue during his meeting with Chadian President Idriss Deby. Rolley feels the media coverage related to Chad has ' changed dimension' in the past few months,amid the Zoe's Ark scandal, the rebel uprising and the mysterious disappearance of several opposition members. " Chadian authorities think the media is trying to discredit the country. " Rolley says.
Many organisations for protection of journalists like Paris based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) deplored the French journalist's expulsion. For RSF, there is the docile state media, but on the other hand journalists working for the independent media have to abide by the archaic and staunch media laws.*
The Committe to Protect Journalists in New York says at least 14 Chadian journalists were forced into exile in the past few weeks and has called on Chad to ease media restrictions and allow journalists to work freely in the country's current crucial situation.
Date created : 2008-03-21