Some staff of a college in Cotonou, the capital of Benin, molested two journalists from the channel TV5 Monde while they were covering the strike at the Collège d’Enseignement Général Océan.
Emmanuelle Sodji, a reporter and cameraman Wilfrid Codo, were hounded and detained by some staff of the College on January 23, 2018 while filming the empty classrooms to show the effect of an ongoing strike by the Confederation of Trade Unions of Benin.
“We were both filming the strike by staff of public institutions when we were attacked by non-striking staff. After 30 minutes, I managed to escape the vigilance of the administrative staff who did not want us to show the images of empty classes,” Sodji narrated.
The staff then took Wilfrid Codo to a police station, where he was further detained and questioned. On hearing the detention of her colleague, Emmanuelle Sodji went to make enquiries at the police station but the police charged them with trespassing and arraigned them before court. The judge however acquitted and discharged them.
The harassment of the journalists has been condemned by the media fraternity in Benin, while lawyers for the victims have filed a suit at a high court over the abuse they suffered.
The MFWA also condemns this harassment of Sodji and Codo while performing their duty. We urge authorities in Benin especially police and other security forces to be mindful of their role in ensuring the protection of press freedom and freedom of expression. We encourage the two journalists to pursue the case to its logical conclusion.