Ivorian journalist, Daouda Coulibaly, was on March 22, 2018, beaten and humiliated by a group of police officers while covering a political demonstration in Abidjan.
The MFWA’s correspondent in Cote d’Ivoire reported that while covering the demonstration, Coulibaly strayed into a restricted area. A police officer who noticed Gbato reprimanded him which led to some verbal exchanges between the two. On noticing the alteration, four of three other policemen went to the scene and joined their colleague to beat Coulibaly, before dragging him on the street and hauling him into the bucket of their pick-up truck.
The correspondent said it took the intervention of other journalists present, led by Guillaume Gbato, executive member of the media self-regulator, Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse de l’Ethique et la Déontologie (OLPED), to get the police to release Coulibaly and return his seized phone and Wi-Fi device. The journalist, however, claimed the police also seized his money and refused to give it back to him.
“This is all I said and that’s the reason I was manhandled and arrested,” Coulibaly added.
“We strongly condemn this attitude. This is one attack too many on press freedom in Côte d’Ivoire. We encourage our colleague to lodge a complaint. Ivorian laws prohibit taking journalists into custody, more so while they are performing their professional duties. The authorities must therefore take measures to get the security agents to understand it,” Gbato, told MFWA.
The MFWA also condemns the attack on Coulibaly. Even if the journalist strayed to a restricted area and exchanged words with a police officer, it should not result in a physical attack and arrest. We call on authorities to investigate the matter and ensure that the culprits are punished.