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Journalist "definitively suspended" from radio station for critical reporting

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 25 February 2008 IFJ media release:

IFJ Says Media Regulator Should End Suspension of Togolese Journalist

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the media regulatory body of Togo to end the suspension of journalist Daniel Lawson-Drakey and overturn the ban on his columns, saying that the decision that his work has been unethical was based on political concerns.

"We protest against this sanction, which aims to silence a professional journalist whose critical reporting upset the authorities," said Gabriel Baglo, Director of the IFJ Africa office. "We call on the leaders of the High Authority of the Audiovisual and the Communication to cancel this penalty unconditionally."

On 19 February, the High Authority of the Audiovisual and the Communication (HAAC) announced "the definitive suspension of editorials, columns, comments or analyses of Daniel Lawson-Drackey on Nana Fm," a private radio station in Lomé, the capital city of Togo. The HAAC said that Lawson-Drackey's radio broadcasts violate the principles of "respect of the dignity of the human person and the ethics in the field of information and communication."

The IFJ believes that journalists should regulate the industry themselves to ensure ethical reporting. It also believes that reporters should be able to report on the government without fear that they will be silenced if they write or broadcast critical stories.

"We reject this decision of the HAAC, because it is the result of a false and abusive reading of the Press and Communication Code," said Augustin Koffi Amega, Secretary General of the Union of Independent Journalists of Togo (UJIT).

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries.

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