Wednesday will be the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Guy-André Kieffer, a journalist with French and Canadian dual nationality who was based in Côte d'Ivoire’s business capital, Abidjan.
Kieffer went missing on 16 April 2004 after going to an Abidjan supermarket parking lot to meet First Lady Simone Gbagbo’s brother-in-law as part of his research into shady practices in the production and export of cocoa. There has been no word of him ever since.
“This 16 April will be the 10th anniversary of Kieffer’s sad disappearance,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
“During these ten years, judicial enquiries have been launched but not completed, witnesses and suspects have suddenly retracted statements and successive governments in France and Côte d'Ivoire have sent mixed signals on the progress of the investigation. We must continue to campaign with more energy than ever for justice to be rendered in this case.”
Patrick Ramaël, the investigating judge who was appointed to head the French investigation into Kieffer’s murder, was finally taken off the case on 1 September 2013 when his nomination expired after ten years. He pursued the case with determination, made several trips to Côte d'Ivoire and issued summons to Simone Gbagbo to submit to questioning.
Ramaël continued his enquiries even though the French state withdrew resources that had previously been available to him, and he even carried out a judicial search of the Elysée Palace to gets its file on the case. Since his departure, neither the Kieffer family, nor their lawyers nor the other parties have been officially contacted by the new judges in charge of the investigation, Cyril Paquaux and Nicolas Blot.
In January, the Kieffer family wrote to French President François Hollande and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara shortly before they were due to meet, asking them to include the Kieffer case on the agenda of their talks. In the end, the meeting was postponed.
The Kieffer family is asking all those who have supported it during the past ten years to gather in Place Gambetta in Paris from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. on 16 April to look back on these years of absence, uncertainty and disappointed hopes and to commemorate Kieffer’s work and dedication.
Reporters Without Borders is organizing a poster campaign in Abidjan from 16 April to 1 May with the Support Committee of Ivorian Journalists to press the Ivorian authorities and President Ouattara in particular to keep the promise made in April 2012, when Ouattara said “no one will be protected.”
The question of impunity for crimes of violence against journalists is getting more international attention than ever. During its latest session in 2013, the UN General Assembly called for 2 November to be celebrated as International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, whether in an armed conflict or peacetime.
It was chosen in a tribute to Radio France Internationale journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, who were murdered in Mali in 2013.
In 2006, Reporters Without Borders played a key role in getting the UN Security Council to adopt Resolution 1738on the protection of journalists.
For more information on the Kieffer case, see the Reporters Without Borders chronology.