Côte d’Ivoire Alert: Regulatory body fines newspaper and suspends journalist

The board of advisors of the press regulatory body in Côte d’Ivoire, Conseil National de la Presse (CNP), has imposed a fine of one million West African CFA francs (about US$1,700) on La Refondation SA, the publisher of the daily newspaper Notre Voie.

The CNP also suspended journalist Didier Dépry, a journalist at Notre Voie, for one month for “violating the rule of balance in reportage.”

A CNP communiqué published on January 26 said Notre Voie published an article, titled “Uneasiness in the Army/Soumaila Bakayoko goes away” on the front page of its January 5 edition.

The article, authored by Dépry, alleged that there is uneasiness in the army following the retirement of Soumaila Bakayoko, chief of defence staff of the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire, in December 2014.

The CNP communiqué said the journalist “violated the rule of balance of information by publishing articles of an extremely serious nature likely to compromise the serenity of the army and damage the security of the country and the peace of the people.”

The CNP also noted that, as a result of the publication, the officer tipped to occupy Bakayoko’s former position, Touré Sékou, has shown reservations about taking up the position, which is why the post remains vacant.

Meanwhile, political and military authorities have not made any official announcements about this vacancy.

More than two weeks after the publication of this article, neither the editorial team of Notre Voie nor Dépry has corrected the information, as required by Article 16 of the Code of Professional Conduct which recommends that journalists have a “duty to be responsible towards users, by correcting any information which turns out to be false (…).”

According to the communiqué, La Refondation SA and journalist Dépry each have 30 days—starting from when they were informed about the decision—to seek recourse from the competent administrative court.

The MFWA expresses its concern about this incident and also urges the Ivorian media to be professional and mindful of their code of ethics.

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