27 July 2010

Cote d'Ivoire: Court Convicts Journalists for Refusing to Disclose Sources, Suspends Newspaper

press release

The Plateau Criminal Court in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d'Ivoire, on July 26, 2010 convicted three detained editors of the privately-owned Le Nouveau Courrier newspaper over a charge of an "administrative theft".

The charge was as a result of the journalists' refusal to reveal their sources of information over a July 13 leaked report on corruption in the cocoa and coffee sector of the country that Le Nouveau Courrier published on its front-page.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent in Cote d' Ivoire reported that although the court failed to jail the journalists as requested by the state prosecutor, it imposed an outrageous fine of five million CFA Franc (about US$ 9, 647) on each of the three journalists and a two-week suspension of the newspaper with effect from July 26.

The three editors, Saint Claver Oula, Stéphane Guédé and Théophile Kouamouo, editor-in-chief, publisher and managing editor respectively, have been in detention since their arrest on July 13. They were tried summarily.

The correspondent said Patrice Pohe, a journalist and communication adviser of Raymond Tchimou, the state prosecutor, who was also detained on July 21 for allegedly leaking the information to the journalists , was, however, freed by the court without any condition.

MFWA condemns the criminal conviction of the journalists. We are also worried about the exorbitant fines that have been imposed on them.

We request you to, kindly, protest the use of the courts in Cote d'Ivoire to suppress the media and journalists.

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