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Côte d’Ivoire12 September 2002

Police raid editorial offices

On 9 September 2002, uniformed police officers raided the offices of two dailies with links to the opposition, "Le Patriote" and "Tassouman". An article published that morning in "Tassouman" reported on the theft of Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou’s vehicle.

"This police raid raises concerns about press freedom in Côte d’Ivoire. We hope that it will remain an isolated act," stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Laurent Gbagbo, president of Côte d’Ivoire. Reporters Without Borders asked the president to respect the promise he made when he took office not to harass in any way journalists who are carrying out their work. "You must call your ministers to order if they do not live up to your promises and ensure that those responsible for this raid are punished," added Ménard.

At about noon (local time) on 9 September in Abidjan, uniformed police officers burst into the offices of the Mayama press group, which publishes the dailies "Le Patriote" and "Tassouman". The newspapers have links to the opposition Rally of Republicans (Rassemblement des républicains, RDR) led by Alassane Dramane Ouattara. The offices were ransacked, tear-gas canisters were thrown and four people received minor injuries. The police officers accused "Tassouman" of publishing an article on the theft of the interior minister’s car. The newspaper made a parallel between this event and "the regime’s impotence" in the face of urban crime and insecurity. It called the incident a "humiliation" for the police. The information proved to be incorrect and the editorial staff were preparing to publish a correction: in reality, it was the minister of solidarity and health’s vehicle that had been stolen. The interior minister released a communiqué stating that he was in no way involved in this case.

Reporters Without Borders notes that, in January 2001, several journalists from the daily "Le Patriote" were summoned by the police’s research squad due to "investigation requirements." They were accused of publishing articles quoting people who doubted whether an attempted coup had really taken place. A few days later, the home of "Le Patriote"’s publication director was ransacked by unidentified persons.

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