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Cote d’Ivoire: Publication of Six Opposition Newspapers Suspended, Restored

(Sept. 19, 2012) On September 12, 2012, the National Press Council of the Cote D’Ivoire Coast issued a communiqué suspending the operations of six of the country’s daily newspapers. Five of them, Le Nouveau Courrier, Lg Info, Le Temps, Aujourd’hui, and Le Quotidien d’Abidjan, were suspended for six issues. The sixth, L’Alternative, was suspended for 12 issues. The publishers of the newspapers — Avenir Media Sarl, Cyclone Sarl, Aymar Group, Les Editions Aujourd’hui Sarl, and La Refondation S.A — had been given 30 days in which to appeal the suspension decisions. (Cote d’Ivoire: National Press Council Suspends 6 Opposition Newspapers, Communique Issued by the National Press Council in Abijan on 12 September After Its Extraordinary Session, LE NOUVEAU REVEIL (Sept. 14, 2012), World News Connection online subscription database, Doc. No. 201209141477.1_fe3f00324c8f9b70.)

It was reported on September 18, 2012, that the suspensions were lifted. (Newspaper Suspensions Lifted in Ivory Coast, WGME 13 (Sept. 18, 2012).) Raphael Lakpe, Chairman of the National Press Council, said that the suspensions could be reinstated if additional content that the Council found objectionable were published. (<?Id.)

An additional newspaper, Notre Voie, had been suspended by the Council on September 6, 2012, for the inclusion of a photo caption that the Council had not approved together with a picture showing officials allied withformer Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. The six more recently suspended publications had reprinted this item. The Council communiqué stated that by doing this, the six papers were “voluntarily contributing, through the media, to set confusion in the minds of the population on the existence of a two-headed leadership at the helm of the state, a practice that is considered to be seditious and shall not be tolerated.” (Id. & Cote d’Ivoire: National Press Council Suspends 6 Opposition Newspapers, supra.)

L’Alternative, which was given a longer term of suspension, was punished in addition for violating Law No. 2004-643 of December 14, 2004, on the legal status of the press. That Law is quoted as containing provisions to the effect that “any newspaper or periodical under suspension cannot be reconstituted in any form whatsoever during the period of the suspension. The paper is considered to have been reconstituted if it calls for the collaboration of part or all of the editorial staff of the newspaper or periodical suspended.” (Cote d’Ivoire: National Press Council Suspends 6 Opposition Newspapers, supra.) The editorial team of L’Alternative included the same people who were editors of Notre Voie. (Id.)