Media and trade unions under scrutiny?

Repression against journalists and trade unionists seems to take a new turn, at least here in Mauritius. On Wednesday three members of the press, the Editor-in-chief of Weekend newspaper and two journalists of Radio Plus, a private radio, were arrested for having allegedly diffused false news. They were brought to court yesterday and released on bail. They have also been charged for alleged defamation. They had published and broadcast a news about a big sum of money supposedly found in the locker of a senior police officer, which was denied by the police department.

A day earlier two trade union leaders were summoned to court for having participated in a union action in June last against the intended closure of the police mechanical workshop as announced in the last budget. However the court has temporarily lifted the objection to their departure to enable them participate in a conference of the International Trade Union Confederation in Ghana. Other trade unionists were questioned by police last week on their participation last year in a demonstration against the closure of the Development Works Corporation, a para-statal organisation.

Are we heading towards a rise of repression in the country? Observers seem to be concerned with this issue at a moment when the country is facing serious economic set back with the end of the sugar protocol and rising prices of basic commodities. Reporters Sans Frontieres reminds us that the last time journalists were arrested in Mauritius dates as far back as thirteen years ago. The Mauritian Premier announced some time ago his intention to bring more stringent laws against defamation and diffusion of unfounded news. What else can be done when the media hurts?

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