IFJ Backs French Union's Call for International Action and Truth Behind Disappearance of Journalist in the Ivory Coast




<center>IVORY COAST: THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH BEHIND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GUY-ANDRE KIEFFER</center>


On 16 April, our 54 year-old French-Canadian colleague Guy-André Kieffer, married and father of three children, disappeared in broad daylight in Abidjan.


Without any news his mobile phone was cut off and his car disappeared without trace.


According to the Ivorian newspaper Le Patriote, this freelance journalist working for La Lettre du Continent (a publication specialized in African issues) and a former journalist for the weekly economic paper The Tribune from 1984 to 2002 was last seen on 16 April at 13.00 (GMT) in a commercial centre in the capital awaiting a meeting with a source in line with a series of investigative works that he had undertaken.


On 21 April, the Director General of the Ivorian police confirmed the official opening of a preliminary inquiry and the launch of a call for witnesses.


On behalf of his organisation, the Director of La Lettre du Continent said, “Guy-André felt threatened. He was working on sensitive reports. He had begun to irritate people”.


On 22 April, according to the spokesperson for the French Presidency, President Jacques Chirac telephoned his counterpart, the Ivorian President Gbagbo to request him to “do the maximum to find our compatriot”.


The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “the French Ambassador and internal security services of the French and Canadian embassies as well as the General Consulate in Abidjan have been involved in this inquiry and are following this case closely”.


The United Nations have made an official request to the Ivorian authorities.


On 23 April, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF), which brings together sixty parliaments from the countries of the French communities, expressed its “deep concern in deploring the unsafe conditions in which journalists carry out their work in the Ivory Coast and reiterates the need to guarantee the freedom of the press in line with the agreements reached at the Marcoussis conference. The APF called on “the Ivorian authorities to do everything in their power to bring to the light the circumstances surrounding this disappearance”.


On 26 April, the Director of the Ivorian Judicial Police confirmed that “there is nothing new, no leads and that the inquiry continues”.


The same day, after a press conference which coincided with a meeting on the Niger basin gathering nine African leaders, Jacques Chirac talked about “his extreme worry at the total absence of information. I have talked again with President Gbagbo and he told me that he didn’t have any information either”.


The French Ambassador indicated that “a crisis group had been formed with the Canadians and that a meeting was scheduled that same day with the Prime Minister of the national reconciliation government”.


On 28 April, the family of Guy-André brought forward charges against X for abduction and kidnapping, with the goal of “authorizing the French authorities to take action within this framework and that a French police squad would cooperate with the Ivorian police in order to promote efficiency and to avoid a standstill”.


After 19 days the inquiry has not moved forward. We have no news!


CALL FOR ACTION BY THE JOURNALIST PROFESSION

Following the assignment of a judge for the inquiry by the prosecutor in Paris, the profession should take action.


Take all the necessary initiatives in your editorial offices to provide coverage in your respective publications in order to bring out the truth.


AN INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF INVESTIGATION SHOULD BE SET UP BY FRANCE AND CANADA


Increase the overall creation of support committees such as in the United States, Senegal, Niger and Great Britain.


Send petitions and letters to the authorities, ministries, embassies, consulates and French, Canadian, Ivorian and European Parliaments.


Hundreds of journalists working for “The Tribune” who came together in a general assembly have already called on the “French authorities to maintain their efforts to bring this case to the fore”.


A support committee “The Truth for Guy-André Kieffer” has just been created in Paris (contact: dominique.mariette@laposte.net). The SNJ-CGT decided to join this committee and to provide it with logistical support.



<right>SNJ-CGT - Paris 5 May 2004</right>