JOINT STATEMENT: Journalists' Leaders Call for an End to Post-Election Violence and the Restoration of Media Freedom in Ivory Coast

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

the media.

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 MandatL'ExpressionNord-SudLe 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).