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New president must improve press freedom, says CPJ

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, May 9, 2011 - With a new president in office, it is time to end the political persecution of journalists by creating an environment in which the press is free to report without fear of reprisals, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to the Ivorian head of state today.

CPJ requests in the letter that President Alassane Dramane Ouattara take all necessary steps to solve the disappearance of French-Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer, missing since 2004. Kieffer was investigating corruption in the cocoa industry when he was kidnapped in Abidjan.

Despite public pledges by Ouattara administration officials that news organizations favorable to former President Laurent Gbagbo be allowed to operate unhindered, a few outlets have been attacked, said CPJ. Describing several cases of intimidation and retribution for previous coverage that was favorable to Gbagbo, CPJ asks Ouattara to act in the interest of a nation seeking to heal from conflict and divisions by ensuring the press is not victimized. Public statements urging Ouattara supporters not to seek revenge must not be contradicted by officials who ridicule or outright dismiss allegations of press violations, the letter stated.

In the interest of democracy and the rule of law, CPJ asks Ouattara to ensure press freedom violations are taken seriously by his administration and to hold those who commit abuses to account.

Click here to read CPJ's letter
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