Condemning murder of two French journalists in Mali

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Her Excellency Traoré Diallo
Ambassador of the Republic of Mali to Canada
50 Goulburn Ave.
Ottawa, ON K1N 8C8

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 strongly condemns the recent abduction and murder of two French journalists in Mali and is deeply concerned for the safety of journalists working in the region. Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, both reporters for Radio France Internationale, were kidnapped and shot after conducting an interview with a Tuareg separatist leader in the northern city of Kidal on November 2. Their bodies were discovered with multiple gunshot wounds near the vehicle used by their abductors. Malian authorities have detained at least nine suspects for their involvement in the attack, all with links to the extremist separatist organization National Movement for the Liberation of the Azawad (MNLA) and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). AQIM has claimed responsibility for the killing of the two journalists, referring to it as a “minimum debt” owed to Muslims by the French people.

This murder, described by Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird as “barbaric,” indicates a further erosion of freedom of expression and worsening violence against journalists in Mali. This is further evidenced by the growing tensions and tightened media controls faced by Kidal –based journalists in the lead up to the November 24 Malian parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, security is steadily declining in the vast northern region of Mali due to the increasing influence of AQIM and MNLA, putting the lives of journalists at risk despite international efforts to safeguard them.

CJFE urges the Malian authorities to bring those responsible for these attacks to justice and to take concrete steps to guarantee the safety of media workers in the country.

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

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, CJFE President

Cc: Her Excellency Virginie Saint-Louis, Canadian Ambassador to Mali
The Honorable John Baird, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs