Reporters Without Borders wrote today to São Tomé and Príncipe’s prime minister, Patrice Emery Trovoada, and to the head of the national television station TVS, Oscar Medeiros, to condemn journalist Maria da Conceição de Deus Lima’s sudden dismissal by TVS and to request an explanation.
The letters also urged them to rehire Lima and to make respect for media freedom a priority.
The producer and host of the programme “Em Directo” for more than a year, Lima had been planning to record an interview in early December with Carlos Veiga, a candidate for the post of prime minister in Cape Verde. Although Medeiros had previously given his agreement, he suddenly cancelled the planned interview.
Lima responded by writing an article for the online newspaper Tela Non in which she described the cancellation of the interview as an act of censorship. The next day, Medeiros told her that her contract would not be renewed at the end of the month “on the government’s orders.” Her programme, “Em directo,” was then suspended.
“We are shocked to learn of Ms. Lima’s dismissal from TVS, as this programme was a big success in São Tomé and she has always been admired and appreciated by viewers and media professionals alike,” the letter to prime minister said. “We firmly condemn the government’s meddling in TVS’s operations. This act of censorship is a serious violation of free expression and media freedom.”
The letter added: “Your government’s intervention in order to have Ms. Lima removed was an arbitrary act that jeopardizes your country’s democratic foundations.”
Reporters Without Borders is disturbed to see that, since Trovoada’s appointment as prime minister last August, it has become more complicated for journalists to obtan access to official information. This has hampered the media’s work.
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