The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the arrest of journalist Ibrahim Boiny Adiawiakoye by the judicial police in Bamako over a publication about former Youth and Sports Minister Harouna Touré, and calls for the immediate release of the journalist.
On September 18, 2020, officers of the judicial police burst into the premises of the online newspaper Mali Scoop. Without presenting any summons or warrant, they arrested the director of publication of the online newspaper Ibrahim Adiawiakoye. According to his colleagues who witnessed the arrest, he was notified that it was a complaint from the former minister Touré following the publication of the article titled “What relationship does Harouna Touré, have with the CNSP?” CNSP represents the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, the junta which seized power in Mali following the coup d’état of August 19, 2020.
In the article, the journalist said that the former Minister of Youth and Sports has continued to control his ministry as if there had not been a change, before asking the question “Is the CNSP duped by the secretary general of the said ministry or is it being complicit?”
The complaint that led to Adiawiakoye’s arrest, however, came from an unlikely source. During the celebration of World Press Day in 2017 in Mali, the complainant, who was then Minister of Digital Economy and Communication, said that the new law on the press regime and press offenses which had taken effect, decriminalises press offenses. “Clearly, no journalist should end up in prison for his opinions”, Minister Harouna Touré assured.
The detention of Adiawiawiakoye is part of a dynamic of hostility against the media by the various parties to the political crisis the country is currently going through. During a massive anti-government demonstration on July 10, demonstrators stormed and ransacked the public broadcaster, the Office de Radio-Télévision du Mali (ORTM). Mamadou Cissé, journalist from the Horon Group, was arrested by the police while he was reporting, and then released. Journalist Hawa Kamissoko from Groupe Liberté TV was violently arrested in the middle of her coverage by the police who put her in a pick-up. In a press release, media organization Groupe Ernergie also reported attacks on its reporters.
The socio-political crisis that the country is going through requires the contribution of all democratic institutions including the media. We therefore call on the CNSP to place particular emphasis on the promotion of press freedom and the protection of the safety of journalists. In line with the law on the media and press offenses in Mali, the MFWA urges the new authorities of the National Council of Salvation for the People (CNSP) to ensure the immediate release of journalist Ibrahim Adiawialoye.