ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – A media advocacy group said Tuesday that forces loyal to Ivory Coast's new president harass and abuse journalists and may be responsible for the death of a reporter.
The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Alassane Ouattara's new government to investigate the death of reporter Lago Sylvain Gagneto, whose family says he was targeted because he was from the same ethnic group as former president Laurent Gbagbo. Local journalists say Gagneto's bullet-ridden body was found over the weekend.
Local journalists also say Ouattara's forces also ransacked and burned down the community radio station where Gagneto worked.
"The abuse of journalists has been continuing unabated," said Mohammed Keita, CPJ's Africa Advocacy Coordinator.
He added: "President Ouattara pledged to hold to account all those under his authority responsible for abuses. He must act immediately to rein in his forces and uphold the rule of law."
A police official contacted by the CPJ refused comment. He said he was unaware of the incident and needed time to make inquiries.
Ouattara was inaugurated Saturday after a monthslong power struggle for the presidency sparked by Gbagbo's refusal to cede power after he lost a November election. Gbagbo was arrested by pro-Ouattara fighters last month, following a U.N. and French helicopter bombardment of key military sites around the presidential palace.
Before Gbagbo's arrest, rights groups had condemned the targeting of pro-Ouattara journalists and reporters working for the local U.N. radio station. Many of them reported receiving death threats and receiving nocturnal visits by armed men.
Two reporters working for a pro-Ouattara television station were arrested and held without charge before being freed when the jail doors were broken open during Ouattara's ground assault.