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11 february 2011 - Côte d’Ivoire - Deterioration of freedom of expression - Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs

France deplores the deterioration in press freedom and in the freedom of expression in Côte d’Ivoire. It condemns in particular the announcements made by Mr. Laurent Gbagbo’s supporters aimed at restricting the freedom of expression, strengthening the monitoring of the press and prohibiting any pluralist expression of ideas that are not favorable to him.

It reaffirms that, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1962 (2010), all Ivorian parties must "allow equitable access to media, in particular to State media, and refrain from using it to incite the population to hatred, intolerance or violence." These demands were solemnly reaffirmed by the UN Human Rights Council which met in Special Session on 23 December 2010.

France therefore condemns in the strongest possible terms the decision by the Ivorian National Council of Audiovisual Communication (CNCA) to withdraw the radio frequencies allocated to UNOCI, the UN force in Côte d’Ivoire, aimed at preventing them from continuing their broadcasts. This is a new obstruction tactic by Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters aimed at preventing UNOCI from fulfilling its mandate. UNOCI radio plays a key role in the broadcasting of objective information and contributes to easing the situation.

France also renews its appeal to prohibit incitement to hatred by certain sections of the media, particularly radio-télévision ivoirienne (RTI). It condemns the acts of intimidation and the threats against journalists.

France reaffirms that persons who threaten the peace process, obstruct the work of UNOCI and other international actors, and commit serious violations of human rights or international humanitarian law will be subject to measures, including targeted sanctions, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1946 (2010). The Security Council carefully examines all threats or violence against UNOCI, and any obstruction of its action.

France would like the resolution that was unanimously adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, which met in Special Session on 23 December, to be fully implemented. This resolution calls for an immediate halt to the multiple human rights violations and the violations of fundamental freedoms, and condemns the obstruction of UNOCI’s work.

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