Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announces the creation of a group to coordinate support for Olivier Dubois, a French freelance journalist who was abducted in Gao, in northeastern Mali, on 8 April. The group includes friends and colleagues of Dubois, the main French media outlets for which he works, other major media outlets, and journalists who have themselves been held hostage in the past.
The creation of this group of 11 individuals and entities at RSF's initiative comes 12 days after the release of a video confirming Olivier Dubois's abduction.
The group includes representatives of Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique, the three media for which Dubois most often works, representatives of a support committee formed by colleagues in Bamako, Mali's capital, Florence Aubenas and Didier François (journalists who were hostages in Iraq and Syria, respectively), SOS Otages (a Paris-based NGO that defends the interests of hostages and their families), and a coalition of French-language media groups.
"The main tasks that this group has set itself is to coordinate civil society strategy and initiatives in support of this French journalist's release, and to carry out awareness-raising, communication and advocacy actions for as long as necessary to achieve this goal," RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
Based in Bamako for the past several years, Dubois never returned after setting off on 8 April for a meeting in Gao with Abdallah Ag Albakaye, a senior member of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), a coalition of Islamist groups affiliated to Al Qaeda. A 21-second video released a month later, on 5 May, shows Dubois confirming that JNIM is holding him hostage.
Seven and a half years after Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale, were murdered in Mali, the Sahel continues to be one of the world's most dangerous regions for media personnel. Two Spanish journalists, David Beriain and Roberto Fraile, were killed in an attack by an armed group in neighbouring Burkina Faso on 26 April.
Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
The list of members of this coordination group:
France Médias Monde (France 24, Radio France Internationale, Monte Carlo Doualiya)
#FreeOlivierDubois Support Committee
Le Monde journalist Florence Aubenas, a former hostage in Iraq
Europe 1 journalist Didier François, a former hostage in Syria
Union of French and Francophone Press Clubs