Sunday, July 25, 2010

Declaration of the Ivorian Committee for the Protection of Journalists - (ICPJ)

Declaration of the Ivorian Committee for the Protection of Journalists (ICPJ)




We, Journalists of Côte d'Ivoire, spontaenously united within the ad hoc group – Ivorian Committee for the Protection of Journalists (ICPJ):

  • Considering the Law N° 2004 – 643 of December 2004 of the Press Legal Code;

  • Considering the Ivorian Ethical Code of the Journalist adopted on the 29th of August 1992, outcome of the Yamoussoukro Seminar;

  • Considering that the Law and the Press Ethical Code ordains press liberty in Côte d'Ivoire

  • Considering that the article 68 of the Press Law states that “Prison terms are formally excluded for press misdemeanour”;

  • Considering that the Ethical Code of the Journalist in Côte d'Ivoire states, in its Articles 1 and 2, that every journalist shall lay claim to the following rights:

  1. The protection of information sources

  2. Free access to all sources of information and the right to freely investigate on all issues that affect the life of the public


In its publication of Monday, July 12, 2010, Le Nouveau Courrier daily publishes conclusions of the investigation carried out for two years by the National Prosecutor under the headline “The Black Book of the Coffee-Cocoa Industry, (Act I)”,

On the morrow, Tuesday, July 13, on the orders of the National Prosecutor, agents from the Criminal Police invest the offices of Le Nouveau Courrier ransack it and seize a laptop computer supposedly containing the complete document published and make three arrests; Stéphane Guédé Bahi, Théophile Kouamouo and Saint-Claver Oula, respectively Director of Publications, Editorial Director and Editor in Chief;

The three comrades are remanded for four days in custody of the Criminal Police (Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14, Thursday 15 and Friday 16 July). In the course of multiple hearings, investigators compel journalists to reveal the source of the document. The journalists, naturally, decline to do so, in the light of he Ethical Code which guarantees the protection of journalists' information sources.

On this refusal to reveal sources, the National Prosecutor orders the committal of the three journalists of Le Nouveau Courrier and their transfer to the prison - Maison d’arrêt et de correction d’Abidjan (MACA) on Friday, July 16, 2010 around 18:30 hours.

At the opening of the case in court on Monday, July 19, the National Prosecutor lays an accusation of “theft of administrative document”, thereby changing the terms of the accustion from press misdemeanour to a civil offense, in disregard of the legal dispositions currently in force. At the end of the prosecuting and defense addresses, the court postpones the verdict to Wednesday, July 21.

On July 21, when comrades, relatives and friends of the imprisoned journalists, gathered in large number at the Court premises in Plateau, await the decision, the verdict is further postponed, for no known reasons, to the next, Monday July 26. This justifies our sit in of today in Front of the High Court in Plateau.


We, Journalists of Côte d'Ivoire, spontaenously united within the ad hoc group – Ivorian Committee for the Protection of Journalists (ICPJ):

  1. Vehemently denounce these continuous postponments, whose only reason is to maintain our three comrades in detention in a prolonged and abusive manner.

  2. Express our concern about the delay tactics of the National Prosecutor on the eve of court recess

  3. Demand the immediate release of our three comrades without conditions

  4. Shall not accept any condemnation, even suspended, of our three comrades, for this shall imply that the offense of “theft of administrative document” as charged by the National Prosecutor in court has been validated; which may give birth to a disturbing jurisprudence susceptible of endangering the freedom of press and the media profession in Côte d'Ivoire;

  5. Vigourously protest against this blatant infringement of press freedom in Côte d'Ivoire, and express our indignaton at the propensity of the National Prosecutor to stiffle the press in this country;

  6. Commit ourselves to all necessary actions to free our three comrades, protect the rights of journalists and safeguard press liberty, which was valliantly fought for and won in Côte d'Ivoire;

  7. Call on all national and international journalists to remain mobilized for the battles to come.

In Abidjan, Friday, July 23, 2010

The Ad Hoc Committee

With copies to :

  • The Presidency of the Republic

  • The Presidency of the National Assembly

  • The Prime Minister

  • The President of the Social and Economic Council

  • The Ministry of Communication

  • The Ministry of Justice

  • The Ministry of External Affaires

  • The Ministry of Interior

  • Media Professional Organisations

  • National and International press organs

  • Human rights Defense and Protection organisations

  • Civil Society organisations

  • Religious and traditional chieftaincy organisations

  • Parties and political organisations

  • Chanceries and Embassies.

Original text in French. Translation graciously provided by Nnenna Nwakanma.