Editor of Mauritanian newspaper wins competition for best article on freedom of information
Mohamed Fall Ould Oumeïr, editor-in-chief of the independent Mauritanian weekly newspaper, La Tribune, won the sub-regional competition of opinion articles on the theme "Freedom of Information and the Right to Know: What Future for the Maghreb Countries?", organized by the UNESCO Office in Rabat on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day.
A well-known advocate for press freedom in Mauritania, Mohamed Fall Ould Oumeïr, has worked for leading independent newspapers criticising the political status quo of the country since its independence. One of those newspapers, Mauritania Tomorrow, saw several of its editions seized by the government because of articles it published. Mohamed Fall Ould Oumeïr spent 12 days in prison after the publication of one of his articles.
Ould Oumeïr won the competition on freedom of information with his article "Plural Maghreb, Plural Information" (<a target=blank href="http://rabat.unesco.org/concours/spip.php?article22">Un Maghreb pluriel, une information plurielle</a>), where he summarizes the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of information that he defends:
- We must build the ways to create an independent press that doesn't work under the pressure of the political and financial spheres. We should also try to release it from the heaviness of social constraints. It needs to be helped to break away from the formatted contents, called "politically correct", because suitable. This kind of information does not challenge the social order, neither the dominant thinking of the elites in power. The press must be engaged a little more, a little better. It is not anymore about to comfort the dominant system but about to bring it to its reappraisal.
The official announcement of the winner of the competition took place on 3 May, during the celebration of World Day of Press Freedom, organized by UNESCO's Office in Rabat in partnership with the Mauritanian Ministry of Communication, the National Commission for UNESCO, the Mauritanian Network of Women Journalists and the Union of Journalists, and the World Bank.
From 8 to 31 March journalists from the Maghreb countries had the opportunity to freely express their points of view about freedom of information in the region. Articles from the four French-speaking Maghreb countries were evaluated by a sub-regional jury on the basis of professional journalistic standards, such as the treatment of topic, the clarity of message, the relevance of arguments, the style, the transparency of structure, etc. The best articles have been published on the website of UNESCO's Rabat Office.
Ould Oumeïr received a grant of 3,000 US dollars for a professional training in one of UNESCO's partner institutions in the competition.