News

December 4, 2018

Editor beaten, humiliated for criticizing Mali truth commission

Hamidou Touré El Hadji, directeur de publication de Malimédias.com
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the physical violence and degrading treatment to which a news website editor was subjected at the headquarters of Mali’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (CVJR) in Bamako last week and calls for an impartial investigation so that those responsible can be severely punished.

Malimedias.com editor El Hadji Hamidou Touré’s account is shocking. He said he was summoned by the CVJR’s secretary-general, Army Colonel Abdoulaye Makalou, on 29 November after criticizing the commission’s lack of results in a Facebook post and, while in Makalou’s office, he was hit several times by Makalou’s “bodyguards” and was forced to drink his own urine. “Before releasing me, the colonel also threatened to kill me if I said anything to anyone about what had happened,” Touré added. The website editor nonetheless reported the attack to Mali’s gendarmerie.

 

RSF has established from telephone records and other sources that Col. Makalou was very insistent that the meeting should place in his office, while Touré, out of concern for his safety, repeatedly proposed meeting in a public place. Makalou ended up coming to get Touré after the journalist’s car broke down. Touré agreed to go to the commission on condition that he could bring his cousin with him. His cousin, who was in the adjoining room when the assault took place, told RSF he heard Touré “shout for help” and saw, when he emerged from Makalou’s office, that he had been “badly beaten.”

 

“We strongly condemn this mistreatment of the editor of Malimedias, which is unacceptable, and we call on the authorities to ensure that an independent investigation is carried out and that this journalist’s safety is guaranteed, said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. The credibility of the CVJR, whose primary mission is investigating abuses, is clearly at stake. It is therefore essential that all necessary resources should be made available to the investigators so that those responsible for such an act of such gravity against a journalist are punished.”

 

Reached by RSF, Col. Makalou acknowledged summoning Touré to his office but insisted that he had a “clear conscience” because Touré suffered “no act of aggression.” Asked why he resigned as CVJR secretary-general yesterday, he said it was because he did not want “this affair to damage the commission’s reputation.”

 

As well as pursuing a military career, Col. Makalou studied journalism at the Centre for Scientific and Technical Studies in Dakar, Senegal.

 

Mali is ranked 115th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.