The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Federation of African Journalists
(FAJ) and the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) expressed concerns
today over the political crisis in the West African country of Ivory Coast
which has serious impact on the Ivorian people, particularly journalists and
According to agency reports, the distribution and publication of newspapers in
Ivory Coast have been blocked. Newspapers ideologically allied with the
opposition leader, now internationally recognised Ivorian President Alassane
Ouattara, are not allowed to publish. Two reporters working for Le Mandat
newspaper were briefly arrested, at least 8 foreign journalists were arrested
in different periods, and the safety and security of local journalists have
been compromised by the armed forces of both political camps.
"In such crises it is crucial that journalists are left to get on with their
jobs which are to report the truth and inform Ivorian citizens. We call on all
sides in this crisis to respect the work and safety of journalists, in
particular the transmission of foreign broadcast should be restored and all
newspapers allowed to publish and distribute. It is also important that
journalists adhere at all times to professional standards of reporting and
avoid any inflammatory language," Jim Boumelha, IFJ President.
The IFJ, FAJ and WAJA call on the political and military leaders to end the
violence and atrocities in the post-election crisis. Journalists and their
media houses are among the first victims of this confrontation. There have been
acts of intimidations and censorship of the media by the national council of
audiovisual communications. All the international news reports and channels
relayed by Canal+ were suspended on 2 December.
Soldiers of the Republican Guard, supporting the former president, Laurent
Gbagbo, reportedly raided printing houses in Abidjan to prevent the printing
of Le Jour Plus, Le Mandat, L'Expression, Nord-Sud, Le Patriote, Le Démocrate and Le Nouveau Réveil.
"These acts constitute a blatant attack on freedom of the press, restrict journalists'
rights to report independently, deny Ivorian citizens their right to
information and raises safety concerns for both local and foreign journalists
in the Ivory Coast," said Omar Faruk Osman, FAJ President.
French media and UN Radio have also been targeted by the former president's
supporters while the UN Radio was seemingly jammed by the national radio. There
are also reports of National Television and Radio being used by Gbagbo's
supporters to spread hate and attack foreign media.
Mohamed Garba, President of WAJA expressed "serious concern about the
deteriorating state of affairs in Ivory Coast especially on its resultant
denial of the rights of journalists. It is also unfortunate that the
state media is being used as a tool to inflame further the fracas. We
call on all parties to ensure that the journalists are allowed to independently
and objectively report on events in Ivory Coast".
WAJA, FAJ and IFJ call for the respect of the democratic will of the Ivorian
people and warn all sides in this conflict that violence against journalists
and media will not be tolerated. The three organizations are closely monitoring
the situation in Ivory Coast with their affiliate, Union nationale des
journalistes de Côte d'Ivoire (UNJCI).