The International Press Institute (IPI) today condemned the death of a radio journalist whose station was supportive of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.
Sylvain Gagnetaud, an editor and presenter at Radio Yopougon, was detained during fighting between pro-Gbagbo militia and forces supporting recently-elected president, Alassane Ouattara, some time around 8 May, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reported. The journalist was allegedly murdered several days later in the Yopougon district of Abidjan, the country’s administrative center. The circumstances around the arrest and death of Gagnetaud remain unclear.
Ouattara was elected president in December and was soon recognized by most of the international community as the winner; however, Gbagbo refused to step down. He was arrested on 11 April, RSF noted, adding that the Yopougon radio station was attacked and set on fire several days after his fall.
Nina Bolu, director of the editors of Le Temps newspaper, was arrested by unknown gunmen on 24 May, RSF reported.
During the months-long standoff between Ouattara and Gbagbo, journalists were attacked on the basis of their news outlets’ political affiliation. Amnesty International has said that atrocities were committed by the armed supporters of each side.
Since President Ouattara has been in office, a number of journalists from news outlets perceived as favorable to Gbagbo have gone into hiding after receiving death threats, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a letter to the newly elected head of state dated 9 May.
IPI Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: “We offer our condolences to Mrs. Gagnetaud’s family and colleagues, and we urge the authorities to clarify the motifs and circumstances of her death. It has been over two weeks since the journalist was murdered and a transparent investigation needs to be conducted as swiftly as possible, regardless of who committed these acts, in order to end a climate of impunity.”