Côte d'Ivoire: Pro-Gbagbo journalist and presenter at Radio Yopougon murdered

Regulation & Policy

25 May 2011, Reporters Without Borders is shocked to learn that Sylvain Gagnetaud, a journalist who openly supported former President Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), was killed two weeks ago in Yopougon, a suburb of Abidjan, which has seen frequent post-election violence and clashes in recent months between pro-Gbagbo militiamen and forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara.

Deputy editor and presenter at Radio Yopougon and a leading member of the Organization of Côte d'Ivoire Professional Journalists, Gagnetaud was arrested during a sweep by pro-Ouattara forces through the Yopougon neighbourhood of Koweït on or around 8 May and was executed soon afterwards along with youths suspected of being militiamen, several different sources say.

This devastating development has fuelled concern about the future of the media in Côte d'Ivoire. Despite the encouraging reappearance of opposition newspapers, journalists and media that remained loyal to Gbagbo throughout the post-election violence continue to be hounded by the country's new authorities.

Nina Bolou, one of the directors of Cyclone, the company that publishes the opposition daily Le Temps, was arrested by armed men at the newspaper yesterday. She had gone there with a lawyer and a court official to survey the damage from an attack on its premises several weeks ago. Le Temps was due to resume publishing in the next few days.

"We are very disappointed to see that the situation continues to be very tense and delicate for many journalists and that reprisals are becoming more frequent," Reporters Without Borders said. "The ability of the security forces to shed light on Gagnetaud's murder will be a test for the newly-installed authorities. We urge the judicial system to identify and try those who were behind this journalist's murder in order to end the impunity. We also call on President Ouattara's government to keep its promises and to create the conditions for a free and independent press."

After Gbagbo's ouster, Radio Yopougon was attacked and set on fire on the night of 13 April and Gagnetaud had tried to flee Yopougon, where fierce fight was taking place. Precise information about the circumstances of his arrest and death is not available.