The Plateau Criminal Court in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, convicted the three detained editors of the privately-owned Le Nouveau Courrier newspaper over a charge of dissemination of classified information in violation of Article 73 of the Code of Ethics of the Media.
The charge was as a result of the journalists’ refusal to reveal their sources of information over a July 13 leaked report on corruption in the cocoa and coffee sector of the country that Le Nouveau Courrier published on its front-page.
Although the court failed to jail the journalists as requested by the state prosecutor, it imposed an outrageous fine of five million CFA Franc (about.US$10,000) on each of the three journalists and a fifteen-day suspension of the newspaper with immediate effect.
The three editors, Saint Claver Oula, Stéphane Guédé and Théophile Kouamouo, editor-in-chief, publisher and managing editor respectively, who had been in detention since their arrest on July 13 were exonerated of the charge of “administrative theft”. They were tried summarily.
Patrice Pohe, a journalist and communication adviser of Raymond Tchimou, the state prosecutor, who was also detained on July 21 for allegedly leaking the information to the journalists, was, however, freed by the court without any condition.
MFWA condemned the criminal conviction of the journalists and was also worried about the exorbitant fines that were imposed on them.
We request you to, kindly, protest the use of the courts in Cote d’Ivoire to suppress the media and journalists.