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Côte d’Ivoire16 October 2002

Three opposition newspapers’ offices ransacked

The offices of the newspapers Le Patriote, Tassouman and Abidjan Magazine were ransacked by a group of unidentified persons on 16 October 2002, at 9:30 a.m. (local time).

Reporters Without Borders condemns the attackers. "This state of affairs is intolerable. It constitutes a deliberate attack on press freedom, at a time when the situation in the country makes unrestricted access to information all the more important," stated Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Robert Ménard in a letter to Communications Minister Séry Bailly. The organisation urged the minister to do everything possible to ensure that such incidents do not reoccur, so that all of the country’s journalists can exercise their profession in a safe environment.

On 16 October, at 9:30 a.m., a group of about 50 unidentified persons in civilian clothes, some of whom were armed, forced their way inside the Mayama Press Group’s building, which houses the offices of Le Patriote and Tassouman, two dailies that support Alassane Dramane Ouattara’s Rassemblement des Républicains party, and the weekly Abidjan Magazine. They ransacked all of the newsroom’s equipment, and notably the press group’s printing equipment.

A day after the 19 September attempted coup d’état, several journalists from the daily Le Patriote were threatened and one of them, Mamady Keita, was assaulted by members of a youth movement close to the head of state. Following the incidents, the Mayama Press Group decided to suspend publication of the three newspapers. Le Patriote started publishing again on 10 October, but the daily’s journalists no longer work out of the paper’s newsroom, for obvious security reasons.

In early October, the press group’s management asked the communications minister to take measures to guarantee the security of journalists and newsrooms. The minister responded that it was impossible to place a police officer in every newsroom, on account of the current unrest in the country.

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