Benin Alert: Journalist threatened for criticising country’s president

Ozias Sounouvou, a journalist with Office de Radiodiffusion et Télévision du Bénin (ORTB), a state-owned television station in Benin, has reported receiving threatening phone calls.

On January 20, 2015, Sounouvou told the MFWA correspondent in Benin that he has been receiving anonymous threatening calls since January 12.

This follows a January 12 presentation by Sounouvou on the ORTB evening news, during which he called out the President of Benin, Yayi Boni, for participating in a press freedom march in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo attacks while in his own country, people cannot freely express themselves. Sounouvou told the MFWA correspondent that he believes the threats are linked to this denunciation.

The journalist said he asked President Boni to be “Charlie-ORTB” by allowing the state broadcaster to air “real debates on the major political issues and other matters dealing with the current and future state of the nation.”

“I’m investigating the issue to possibly identify the originators so as to expose them during a press conference,” he told the correspondent.

A number of world leaders whose home countries do not uphold the right to freedom of expression participated in the aforementioned Charlie Hebdo rally. The MFWA urges the government of Benin and other offending states to end their hypocritical behavior and begin to respect and protect press freedom.

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