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Côte d’Ivoire13 February 2003

Journalist reported missing for the past month, feared dead

Kloueu Gonzreu, a local correspondent with the Ivorian News Agency (Agence ivoirienne de presse, AIP, a state agency), has been reported missing from the Toulépleu region (in western Côte d’Ivoire) since 11 January 2003. According to several sources, he was reportedly arrested by Liberian militiamen fighting with loyalist forces and may have been executed.

Reporters without Borders is very concerned and urges the authorities to launch a serious and impartial investigation to find the missing journalist. The organisation particularly urges President Laurent Gbagbo to personally intervene in the case and see to it that all the facts surrounding the journalist’s disappearance are fully disclosed. "Violence against journalists has been steadily increasing in recent months. Despite repeated appeals by Reporters without Borders and other international organisations, the Abidjan authorities have not taken any measures to guarantee the safety of media professionals," deplored Robert Ménard, the organisation’s secretary-general.

Reporters without Borders also reiterated its condemnation of certain Ivorian media outlets for their role in some of the recent violence. "Certain publications, such as Le National, Notre Voie and Notre Pays, are constantly pouring oil on the fire and seriously endangering the safety of certain persons," noted Ménard. In its 30 January issue, the pro-government newspaper "Notre Pays" published a list of presumed rebels. Gonzreu’s name was included on the list. The paper accused theAIP correspondent of making "remarks in support of the attackers." Notre Pays added that "the people of Toulépleu continue to have their doubts about this person."

According to information collected by Reporters without Borders, Gonzreu, the AIP’s Toulépleu correspondent, has been reported missing since 11 January. The journalist’s family says he was arrested that same day by Liberian militiamen. Several people who were arrested at the same time as the journalist were later found dead, including his 19-year-old son, Thierry Gonzreu.

The journalist, aged 51, has been a correspondent for the official news agency since July 2000. He has also taught history and geography and worked for the local chapter of the Red Cross.

In addition, René Dessonh, a journalist from the daily "Soir Info", was released on 9 February. According to his newsroom, the journalist was arrested three days earlier by Movement for Justice and Peace (Mouvement pour la justice et la paix, MJP) rebels in the Man region (in western Côte d’Ivoire). The rebels did not give the reporter any explanation for his release.



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