29 January 2018

Mali: Two Years On, Whereabouts of Missing Malian Journalist Still Unknown

press release

On January 29, 2016, Malian investigative journalist, Birama Toure, was reported missing. Exactly two years after the journalist's disappearance, nobody seems to know his whereabouts and his family remains deeply worried.

Birama, a reporter with the investigative weekly The Sphinx, left his house in Bamako at about 17.00 hours GMT that day to visit some members of his extended family in Sebenikoro - also a suburb of the Malian capital. That was the last time he was seen or heard of, and two years later, the consensus is that the journalist has been disappeared.

Following Birama's disappearance, the umbrella media and journalists association in Mali, Maison de la Presse (MP), which is MFWA's national partner organisation in that country, organised a press conference on February 27, 2017 to express its concern. The organisation announced that it was intensifying and coordinating efforts to find the missing journalist. The president of MP, Dramane Aliou Koné also said at the event that the government had shown commitment to working with the media to find the missing journalist.

"The Prime Minister has instructed two of his ministries to do everything possible to find our colleague. Every day, we make contact with the authorities to assess the progress of the search effort," Koné declared.

Unfortunately, all the efforts to find Birama have proved futile, and two years down the line, public opinion is unanimous that the investigative journalist has been disappeared, with many fearing the worst.

At least Adama Drame, Managing Editor of Sphinx Publications, believes Birama has been killed.

"Birama Toure is not alive," he told Maliweb.com, a news website in Bamako. Adama Drame claims to have received information from some individuals who were in the same cells with Birama at a state intelligence agency detention centre. However, the Maison de la Presse has said this information cannot be confirmed.

On the basis of this information, Birama's family believe their kinsman was abducted, detained and tortured in detention. They have, therefore, decided to seek audience with the president on the matter.

The family has meanwhile observed the 2nd anniversary of Birama's disappearance with a solemn one-hour ceremony with recitation of verses from the Koran and receiving solidarity messages from the media.

A sign at the entrance to the hall sums up the family's distress: "Birama Toure - we just want to know."

The media fraternity has declared a "Week of Alert" and announced a series of activities to demand answers from the government. The activities include a press conference at the premises of the Maison de la Presse, a sit-in and the presentation of a letter of petition to the Prime Minister.

The MFWA joins the Malian media fraternity and the family of Birama in calling on the Malian authorities to deploy every effort and resource towards unraveling the mystery behind Birama's disappearance. Failure to properly investigate the matter and ensure justice will only entrench impunity in the country.

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