RENEWED VIOLENCE AGAINST JOURNALISTS DESPITE PEACE TREATY
While welcoming the signing of the Linas-Marcoussis treaty, RSF called on government leaders to honour their commitment to press freedom and ensure the safety of journalists in the country. RSF says at least four incidents on 26 and 27 January have renewed concerns that violence against the press is once more increasing.
On 26 January, a crowd of anti-French protesters destroyed the offices of the private radio station Radio Nostalgie in Abidjan. The station director, Hamed Bakayoko, is a member of the opposition party Republican Rally, RSF notes.
On the same day, youths protesting the signing of the peace treaty ransacked the offices of the private newspaper "Le Jour" and assaulted two of its writers. The newspaper had recently published reports linking Ivoirian security forces with death squads, says RSF.
Meanwhile, "Fraternité Matin" photographer N'Guessan N'Guessan and an Agence France Presse journalists were also attacked by protesters.
Under the Linas-Marcoussis treaty, Côte D'Ivoire's new government of national reconciliation has condemned the "incitement to hatred and xenophobia disseminated by certain media outlets," notes RSF. The government has also pledged to re-instate foreign radio and television broadcasts and to guarantee the neutrality and impartiality of public media outlets.
The press in the Ivory Coast is both a victim of the crisis facing the country today and partly responsible for it, RSF says. Since the attempted coup on 19 September 2002, numerous reporters - both Ivorian and foreign - have been beaten up by members either of the state police force or rebel movements. Media professionals are arrested, attacked or threatened almost every day.
But the press is also playing a pernicious role in this crisis, adds RSF. A number of publications have no hesitation in publishing racist or xenophobic articles, putting the safety of large numbers of people at risk. "Le National," "L'oeil du peuple," and the newspaper of the party in power, "Notre Voie," are among such media organs that constantly stoke the flames of conflict by publishing inflammatory editorials and articles inciting violence.
Read RSF's Alerts on Côte D'Ivoire: www.rsf.org">http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=4749">www.rsf.org
Visit these links:
- Committee to Protect Journalists: www.cpj.org">http://www.cpj.org/news/2002/Cote16oct02na.html">www.cpj.org
- Human Rights Watch: www.hrw.org">http://www.hrw.org/africa/cotedivoire.php">www.hrw.org
- UN Report on Côte D'Ivoire: www.un.org