Last Updated: Tuesday, 02 September 2014, 13:52 GMT

Annual Prison Census 2011 - Ivory Coast

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 8 December 2011
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Annual Prison Census 2011 - Ivory Coast, 8 December 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4f0420abc.html [accessed 3 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Journalists in prison as of December 1, 2011

Ivory Coast: 4

Hermann Aboa, Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne
Imprisoned: July 21, 2011

Aboa, a television presenter with state broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), was arrested on antistate charges in connection with his role as moderator of a partisan political show when the station was controlled by former President Laurent Gbagbo.

From November 2010 to February 2011, Aboa was one of four moderators of the show Raison d'État ("National Interest"), which exclusively featured guests favorable to then-President Gbagbo, according to CPJ research. Gbagbo was locked in a five-month power struggle with rival Alassane Ouattara, whose U.N.-certified victory in the November 2010 presidential elections was challenged by Gbagbo until French-backed Ouattara forces ousted him in April.

Ivorian investigating magistrate Mamadou Koné charged Aboa with antistate crimes, including endangering state security and public order, participation in an insurrection, and incitement to ethnic hatred, according to news reports and local journalists. Less than a week after the arrest, Ouattara declared in a press conference at U.N. headquarters that Aboa's program was "really calling on hate, hatred," and inciting "people to kill each other." He compared Aboa's program to Radio Mille Collines, a Rwandan government-sponsored station that directed killings during the 1994 genocide in that country. Ouattara also accused the journalist of accepting money from Gbagbo "to buy arms, to distribute arms to mercenaries."

Based on footage of Aboa's program, CPJ determined that the accusations regarding Aboa's performance as a journalist were baseless. Authorities did not disclose any evidence to support the arms-smuggling accusations, and local journalist question the allegations. He was the only one of four program moderators to be prosecuted.

Aboa fled the country in April following Gbagbo's fall, but he returned in June in response to Ouattara's call for exiles to come home after the conflict had ended, according to CPJ research.

In interviews with CPJ in October, Ivorian State Prosecutor Koffi Simplice said Aboa was in preventive detention pending completion of an investigating magistrate's probe. He said such investigations could last as long as five years. Aboa was being held in Abidjan's MACA Prison, according to local journalists. In November, authorities denied Aboa's petition for release on bail, according to news reports. No date for a trial had been set by late year.

César Etou, Notre Voie
Didier Dépry, Notre Voie
Boga Sivori, Notre Voie
Imprisoned: November 24, 2011

Public Prosecutor Simplice Kouadio ordered the arrests of Editor Etou, copy editor Dépry, and political desk chief Sivory following the publication of columns critical of the government, according to local journalists and news reports. The daily Notre Voie is known as favoring former leader Laurent Gbagbo.

Authorities interrogated the journalists over a critical November 21 column concerning the government's reported acquisition of Mercedes Class E vehicles for members of the cabinet, defense lawyer Serge Essouo told CPJ. The journalists were also questioned about a November 24 column that criticized the government's dismissive reaction to a Notre Voie report regarding currency valuation.

Police detained the trio without formal charge beyond the 48-hour constitutional limit on pretrial detention, and in contravention of Ivory Coast's 2004 Press Law, which bans the detention of journalists for press matters, according to local journalists and CPJ research. On November 29, a judge charged the journalists under the penal code with "incitement to theft, looting and destruction of private poverty via a press channel," Essouo told CPJ.

The three were being held in Abidjan's MACA Prison, according to local journalists.

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