Ivory Coast’s private press union on Monday demanded the immediate and unconditional release of six Ivorian journalists detained by authorities on Sunday.
The six journalists were picked up for “disclosing false news”, in connection with the recent mutiny that has hit parts of the country but the press union said their detention was a “flagrant violation of the freedom of ‘expression”.
Their report that the government had agreed to pay the mutinous soldiers $11,000 each to quell the riots appeared contrary to the official statement that officers had apologised for their actions and no monies were involved in the latest round of talks.
These acts fall under the law that punishes the military incitement to insubordination and rebellion, attacks on the authority of the State and the publication of false information relating to the secrecy of the defense and the security of the State.
According to the prosecutor of the republic, Richard Adou, the arrest of these journalists is linked “to the recent movements in the mood of the soldiers” during which “some news organizations have disclosed false information to encourage soldiers to revolt”.
“These acts fall under the law that punishes the military incitement to insubordination and rebellion, attacks on the authority of the State and the publication of false information relating to the secrecy of the defense and the security of the State,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
But the Syndic-CI group, in a statement, “strongly condemned this umpteenth blatant attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press, two fundamental human rights – recognised and protected by the Ivorian Constitution”.
Vamara Coulibaly of the dailies Inter and Soir Info (independent), Yacouba Gbané of Temps (opposition newspaper) and Franck Bamba Mamadou of Notre Voie (opposition publication), have been detained since Sunday in a gendarmerie camp in the capital, Abidjan.
The three others detained are Hamadou Ziao (editor-in-chief of Inter), Jean Bédel Gnago (Evening info) and Ferdinand Bailly (Time).