Nékim case – a three-part story of censorship in Chad
Jean-Claude Nékim is the publisher of N'Djaména Bi-hebdo, Chad’s oldest opposition newspaper.
He was fined 1 million CFA francs (1,500 euros) and given a one-year suspended jail sentence on a libel charge on 18 September 2012 for publishing a brief in his 6-9 September issue about a petition against “misgovernance” and “the Deby government’s arbitrary rule.” The petition’s authors, the president, vice-president and general secretary of the Federation of Chad Unions (UST), were also sentenced to suspended jail terms and fines.
Although there were absolutely no grounds for a defamation prosecution, the Chadian judicial system rounded off the first stage of its persecution of N'Djaména Bi-hebdo by suspending the newspaper for three months. Other news media that had reported the existence of the petition were meanwhile left in peace.
Nékim immediately appealed against the three-month suspension order and continued to publish pending the outcome of his appeal, as permitted under Chadian law. On 20 September, he published a cartoon about his trial on the front page but the justice system did not appreciate his sense of humour and responded by banning the newspaper and charging him with contempt of court.
To protest against this judicial censorship, all of Chad’s independent and opposition print media suspended publication for a week and prepared a special single-issue “Newspaper of Newspapers” in support of Nékim with “We’ve had enough” as its title and a print run of 5,000 copies.
The entire issue was seized from the printing press on the orders of the public prosecutor, who – after some hesitation – said he had taken this action because it lacked the High Council for Communication’s permission and the certificate normally issued by the prosecutor’s office for this kind of publication.