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Ivorian weekly suspended for publishing "offensive" articles

(MFWA/IFEX) - On February 7 2013, Côte d'Ivoire's statutory press regulatory body — The National Press Council (CNP) — suspended Prestige Mag, a privately-owned weekly magazine, for eight editions, accusing it of publishing offensive articles.

The regulatory body also suspended David Korseh and Fransesca de la Fouine, the articles' authors, for three months.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)'s correspondent reported that the CNP accused the magazine of invading the privacy and tarnishing the image of a musician, Houn Ange Didier (also known as Arafat), and two women, Emma Lohouès and Marie Claude Sességnon.

In a communiqué issued on February 7, the CNP recalled that the February 4, 2013 edition of Prestige Mag contained a story entitled: "Emma Lohouès and MC Sességnon fight over Arafat/They buy him clothes and a house/Two footballers implicated/Artist without a manager/Arafat headed toward 'artistic death.'"

According to the regulatory body, the magazine also contained a contemptuous and derisive article about Juliette Weah, a journalist with the state-owned broadcaster, RTI 2, entitled: “Juliet Weah/From light to dark.”

The regulatory body thus decided to suspend Prestige Mag and its two authors, noting that the assertions made in the publications are not supported by any evidence. The CNP's communiqué states that these assertions tarnished the images and careers of the persons mentioned, and that the pieces violate Article 15 of the Code of Ethics, which states that journalists should “respect the privacy of individuals.”

This is the second newspaper suspended by the CNP this year. On January 22, 2013, the CNP suspended privately-owned La Matinale for three days for offensive publications.

Emphasizing the need for media organizations and journalists to uphold professionalism and responsibility in their work, the MFWA nevertheless remains concerned about the recent spate of suspensions meted out to the Ivorian media. These sanctions, if not addressed, can lead to self-censorship and intimidate the Ivorian media.

We urge the press regulator and media professional groups to take urgent steps to address the issue and reverse the trend.

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