Côte d’Ivoire’s Ministry of Interior on April 7, 2016 banned the sale of a testimonial book written by Charles Blé Goudé, ex-minister and former leader of the Jeunes Patriotes, a youth movement supportive of the former President Laurent Gbagbo.
Both Blé Goudé and President Gbagbo are currently being tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.
The 190 page book entitled De l’Enfer, Je Reviendrai (From Hell I will Return), was authored by Blé Goudé whilst in detention. It outlines the five months of post-election crisis (December 2010- April 2011) that engulfed Côte d’Ivoire following the refusal of former President Laurent Gbagbo to recognize the victory of his opponent Alassane Ouattara.
Lawyer of Ble Goude, Simplice Seri Zokou announced the ban in a statement on the same day. “The book which was published on March 24, 2016 in Côte d’Ivoire after several challenges has just been banned” the statement said.
According to the said statement, the Groupes Librairie de France et Prosuma (FNAC), major distributors of the book in the country has also received a verbal notice from the Minister of Interior that the book has been banned on all Ivoirian territory.
“Sale (of the book) has been prohibited. The luckier ones were able to obtain the first stock”, confirmed an employee of the bookshop, librairie de la France located at Plateau, Abidjan’s business district.
Also the lawyers for the publishers of the book, Yves Derai and Seri Zokou have expressed shock at the decision and described it as a “blatant attack on freedom of expression.”
At the time of writing this alert, the Ministry had not given any reason for the ban. The MFWA finds the decision arbitrary and a violation of the writer’s right to freedom of expression and opinion. We therefore call on the Ivoirian authorities to lift the ban.