CJFE is alarmed by death of Camille Lepage in the Central African Republic

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

His Excellency Stanislas Moussa-Kembe, Ambassador of the Central African Republic to the United States
Embassy of the Central African Republic
2704 Ontario Rd. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is alarmed by the recent death of freelance photojournalist Camille Lepage, whose body was discovered by French troops in the Central African Republic.

The 26-year-old French photojournalist, who had been based in South Sudan since July 2012, was traveling with anti-balaka forces in the Central African Republic to the western city of Amada Gaza. In a statement released on May 13, President François Hollande announced that Lepage was found dead in a vehicle operated by anti-balaka militiamen. Alleging that Lepage was murdered, President Hollande declared, “All necessary means will be deployed to shine light on the circumstances of this assassination and find the killers of our compatriot.”

Lepage expressed a personal interest in capturing the experiences of marginalized populations, and her work has been showcased by news agencies around the world, including The Guardian, BBC, The New York Times, Al Jazeera, and Le Monde. Her death takes place against the backdrop of a violent sectarian conflict between anti-balaka militants and Seleka rebels—a civil war that has developed into an ongoing humanitarian crisis, with both sides committing heinous and vindictive atrocities against the country’s civilians, particularly its Muslim population.

This state of complete banditry and lawlessness poses significant threats to journalists working in the Central African Republic. CJFE calls for an investigation into Lepage’s death and strongly urges that the perpetrators be brought to justice in this case and any other involving the murder of a domestic or foreign journalist.

We thank you for your attention and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

CC: Mr. Jean Pierre Lavoie, High Commissioner to the High Commission
of Canada in Yaounde, Cameroon
The Honourable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs