25 February 2013

Cote d'Ivoire Alert - Authorities Suspend Newspaper and Two Journalists

The National Press Council (CNP), the statutory press regulatory body on February 7, 2013 suspended Prestige Mag, a privately-owned weekly magazine for eight editions for offensive publications.

The regulatory body also suspended David Korseh and Fransesca de la Fouine, authors of the offending articles for three months.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that, the CNP accused the weekly magazine of invading the privacy and tarnishing the image of a musician, Houn Ange Didier, aka Arafat and two ladies, Emma Lohouès and Marie Claude Sességnon.

In a communiqué issued on February 7, the CNP recalled that Prestige Mag carried in its February 4, 2013 edition a story captioned: "Emma Lohouès - MC Sességnon fight for Arafat/They buy him clothes and a house/Two footballers implicated/Artist without a manager/Arafat headed for an "artistic death".

According to the regulatory body, the magazine also carried a contemptuous and derisive article on Juliette Weah, a journalist with the state-owned broadcaster, RTI 2, and headlined: "Juliet Weah/From light to dark."

The regulatory body, thus, decided to suspended Prestige Mag and its two authors, noting that the publications are not supported by evidence, tarnished the image and career of persons mentioned and violates Article 15 of the Code of Ethics, which states that journalists should "respect the privacy of individuals", the communiqué stated.

This brings to two, the number of newspapers suspended this year by the CNP.

On January 22, 2013, the CNP suspended privately-owned La Matinale, for three days for offensive publications.

Emphasizing the need for media organizations and journalists to uphold professionalism and responsibility in their work, the MFWA, however, remains concerned about the recent spate of suspensions meted out to the Ivorian media. These sanctions if not addressed can lead to self-censorship and cow the Ivorian media.

We urge the press regulator and media professional groups to take urgent steps to address the issue and reverse the trend.

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