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Cote d’ Ivoire13 February 2003

An Ivoirian journalist, hold by the rebels, is freed


René Dessonh, a reporter with the daily Soir Info, has been freed after being held for three days by the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP), the paper said.


Journalist held by rebels in the western part of the country

Rebels have been holding a reporter with the Soir Info independent daily newspaper since 6 February 2003 in Man, in the western part of the country. Reporters without Borders is urging the members of the three rebel groups present in the city to do everything possible to get the journalist released.

"Press freedom is no longer assured in the Ivory Coast. With each passing day, journalists are at greater risk when covering the news," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation’s General Secretary. "It is imperative that the rebels-who have been boasting about how deeply they respect human rights-release this journalist and see to it that members of the press are free to work in total safety within the zones under their control," he added.

According to information gathered by Reporters without Borders, on 6 February 2003, René Dessonh, a reporter with the Soir Info newspaper, was arrested in Kouibly (30 km from Man), probably by rebels of the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (MPIGO) or of The Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP). The journalist had gone to Man the day before to cover a meeting between representatives of the three Ivorian rebel groups. According to Soir Info executive staff, some young rebels allegedly accused him of being a spy after recognising him at a dam site. René Dessonh was then said to have been arrested by some rebels and taken to Man. Since that time, no one has heard from him and his place of confinement is still unknown.

Reporters without Borders recalls that representatives of the three Ivorian rebel group signed the Linas-Marcoussis agreements proclaiming their commitment to defend human rights and freedom of the press.

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