Ivorian Journalist in Grave Danger

24 August 2005 at 19:58 | 884 views

Life is not easy for African journalists but journalists in Cote d’Ivoire are some of the most persecuted and traumatised on the continent.This report from Reporters Without Borders paints a grim picture of the situation in that troubled country :

Reporters Without Borders said it was appalled today by the impunity with which anonymous phone callers have been making death threats for more than a week against Eddy Péhé, the editor of the opposition daily Le Nouveau Réveil, forcing him to flee his home.

"This latest episode in the grim saga endured by Côte d’Ivoire’s journalists must be taken seriously," the organisation said. "Whether under pressure or in bad faith, the Ivorian police have failed in their duty to protect citizens, because any police force should be capable of tracking down the source of such phone calls."

Reporters Without Borders added : "A proper investigation is needed so that those responsible for these repeated threats against Péhé can be identified and brought to justice. This would show that the government is determined to enforce the rule of law."

Péhé’s newspaper supports the PDCI, which used to be the ruling single party and which is headed by former President Henri Konan Bédié. Péhé received three threatening telephone calls on his home’s fixed line on the night of 14 August. According to Péhé, the caller said :

"We know where you live and where you work. You support the rebels, you don’t want them to disarm. If they still have not begun disarming on 20 August, we will start with you here. We are going to show you that it is not nice to die. And we will drink your blood, too. Do you know how we got your fixed line’s number ? We know your car’s licence number. We know when you go out and when you come back. We are going to pay you a visit for a chat between men. Idiots like you who are against the regime and against the republic will be killed one by one."

Although Péhé left his home for security reasons, his family continued to receive anonymous calls during the days that followed. After asking in vain to talk to Péhé, the caller said : "Sooner or later we will find him."

As well as alerting Côte d’Ivoire’s press and journalists’ organisations, Péhé reported the threats to the ministries of internal security, defence, communication and human rights, and to the local UN mission. But the authorities have not yet taken any action.

Photo: President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire