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Côte d’Ivoire: Ivorian media’s slow death

Fleeing homes: A woman flees the neighbourhood of Abobo PK 18, a suburb of Abidjan, carrying luggage on her heads, on February 24, 2011.

The climate for the media has been continuously deteriorating in Côte d’Ivoire. Harassed, threatened and exposed to physical violence, journalists are now finding it virtually impossible to work freely, according to Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF). It urged civil society and the two rival camps led by Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara to respect freedom of expression and the right to news and information.

All journalists, without exception, are the victims of this steady worsening in the political situation. Newspapers of all political sympathies are encountering great difficulty in operating. Journalists identified with the Gbagbo camp cannot visit and work in the north, centre and west, which are still controlled by the pro-Ouattara former rebels of the New Forces. The pro-Ouattara media are unwelcome in the Gbagbo-controlled south.

Reporters and editors from four newspapers – Le Démocrate, Le Mandat, Nord Sud Quotidien and Le Nouveau Réveil – were questioned for several hours on February 18 by members of the criminal investigation police on the orders of state prosecutor Raymond Tchimou.

Supervised by deputy prosecutor Mamadou Diakité, the interrogations were carried out in accordance with a report prepared by the prosecutor’s office entitled “Impact of the opposition press on Côte d’Ivoire’s post-electoral crisis.”

The management of Horizon Média, the company that publishes the pro-Ouattara daily Le Mandat, said members of the Security Operations Command Centre (SECOS) attacked several of the newspaper’s employees as they were travelling to the printer’s on the evening of February 18. As a result, the next day’s issue did not appear.

The two journalists working for the pro-New Forces TV Notre Patrie who were arrested on arrival and Abidjan air base on January 28 – Sanogo Aboubakar (aka Abou Sanogo) and Kangbé Yayoro Charles Lopez (aka Gnahoré Charly) – have been incarcerated in the main Abidjan penitentiary on the orders of the Abidjan-Plateau state prosecutor.

In a communiqué published on February 18, the new president of the National Press Council (CNP), Deby Dalli Gbalawoulou, issued a stern warning to the national news media and threatened then with severe penalties. The Côte d’Ivoire Press Editors Group (GEPCI) has suspended its participation in the CNP’s new governing body.

A driver employed by the Nord Sud Quotidien newspaper was abducted Tuesday by gunmen travelling in an unmarked car. There is still no news of him.

The CNP on Wednesday imposed fines of 1 million CFA francs (1,525 euros) on two newspapers, Jour Plus and Le Nouveau Réveil, on the grounds that they had printed an article that defended violence.

“We urge all the media not to stir up hatred and social tension in the fraught and sensitive climate currently prevailing in Côte d’Ivoire,” RSF secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “It is now more necessary than ever to act professionally and respect journalistic ethics. Propaganda journalism must be avoided at all costs to prevent serious abuses.”

Date posted: February 25, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 163