Cote d’Ivoire: Media Regulator Suspends Sports Paper over “Unproven Allegations”

The print media regulator in Cote d’Ivoire, Conseil National de la Presse (CNP), has suspended the Abidjan Sports newspaper for publishing an article that the regulator says “greatly compromises” the president of the Federation of Ivoirian Football (FIF), Sidi Diallo.

In its February 28, 2017 edition, the paper reported that the President of FIF is demanding CFA Francs 300 million (about US$ 491,164) for his FIFA campaign.” Diallo was campaigning to be elected on to the FIFA Executive Committee.

The Executive Director of FIF refuted the allegation by Abidjan Sports against Diallo and lodged a formal complaint with the CNP.

On March 14, 2017, the CNP issued a communiqué saying that “at its second Extraordinary Meeting of 2017 held on March 8, the Council has decided to suspend for two editions the weekly newspaper Abidjan Sports, published by Nord Sud Communication.”

The CNP communiqué said the veracity of the allegations the newspaper made against Sidi Diallo could not be established. It added that these “unproven reports which are offensive to the President of the FIF, could also impact negatively on his campaign towards the FIFA elections.” It said the publication was in breach of Article 2 and 13 of the Code of Ethics which require journalists to make diligent efforts to establish the truth of their allegations.

The newspaper has 30 days to appeal the decision. Meanwhile, the suspension takes immediate effect.

We call on the media to be circumspect in their reportage and to be sure they can substantiate allegations that they level against individuals and institutions.

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