State suspends two newspapers claiming the existence of political prisoners in the country
Procès correctionnel pour divulgation de fausses nouvelles/Michel Gbagbo condamné à 6 mois de prison, Laurent Despas de @Koaci condamné à payer 10 millions FCFA @BabethLizy #CIVjustice #civ225 pic.twitter.com/zV0DndwEwv— Observateur Citoyen (@ObservateurCIV) 26 januari 2018
On 14th December 2017, Conseil national de la Presse (National Press Council - CNP) suspended two opposition news outlets for spreading false news in regards to publishing allegations of the existence of political prisoners in November 2017. The two newspapers, La Voie Originale and LG Infos, have ties to former president, Laurent Gbagbo who remains in detention in the Hague on trial for charges of crimes against humanity. In a communique, the CNP requested that the two newspapers provide proof of their claims of political prisoners in the country. The government has denied that any political prisoners are currently being held.
In response to the suspension of the two publications, on 14th December Groupement des Éditeurs de Presse de Côte d’Ivoire (Group of Press Publishers of the Ivory Coast) issued a statement, declaring that it:
"...strongly opposes and condemns, with the utmost energy, intolerable attacks on the free exercise of the profession of journalist and all that amounts to a form of threat to the development of the press".
In a separate development, on 26th January 2018 a court fined journalist Laurent Despas, manager of the news portal koaci.com, for publishing false news in two articles on koaci.com with allegations that the authorities had arrested people close to former president Laurent Gbagbo in the aftermath of the 2011 post-election crisis. One article listed a number of people as "political prisoners". The other article included an interview with the son of former President Gbagbo - Michel Gbagbo - who claimed that 300 people had been disappeared and 250 remain in detention. Michel Gbagbo was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 500,000 CFA francs (1,000 USD) for the claims made in the interview.
Déclaration du SYNAPPCI relative à l’agression de la camarade Olga Ottro par des agents de la police nationale. https://t.co/gpsiwbT6Ke @NigelUNI @TheMFWA @UNBCI_ @unimei @Bruno_N_Kone @RFI @RFIAfrique @VOAFrench @afpfr @USEmbAbidjan @abidjan_net pic.twitter.com/cEzULV1MU8— SYNAPPCI (@SYNAPP_CI) 31 januari 2018
Police officers assaulted photo-journalist Olga Ottro from Le Nouveau Réveil while she was covering a court case in Abidjan on 29th January. Otro was also detained for several hours before being released.
Syndicat National des Professionnels de la Presse de Côte d’Ivoire (National Union of Press Professionals in Ivory Coast) condemned the assault and detention.
Demonstrations on 6th February 2018 in Soubré turned violent as business owners torched the town hall and Mayor Traoré Lassina’s house to express their indignation over a fire which destroyed the central market the previous day. The protesters accused the mayor of starting the fire as an excuse to later sell the market to foreign buyers. The mayor denounced the demonstrations as interference from opposition parties and reassured residents that the market had not been sold.
On 12th December 2017, professors from the University of Félix Houphouët Boigny in Abidjan started a strike to demand the payment of overtime they had worked in 2015 and 2016. The strike ended on 20th December.