In a 21-second video that was released today, Olivier Dubois says he was kidnapped by the “Support Group for Islam and Muslims” (JNIM) in Gao, in northeastern Mali, on 8 April. Dubois, who works for Libération and Point Afrique, is an experienced reporter and knows Mali well. He was reporting in the field at the time of his abduction.
RSF was informed two days after he went missing, when he failed to return on time to the Malian capital, Bamako. In coordination with his editors, RSF took to the decision not to report his abduction in order not to hamper the possibility of a rapid positive outcome. The French foreign ministry in Paris has meanwhile confirmed Dubois’s “disappearance.” The video is still in the process of being authenticated.
“We urge the Malian and French authorities to do everything possible to obtain his release and we offer our full support to his family and friends,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “Coming just ten days after two Spanish journalists were killed in neighbouring Burkina Faso, the report of this reporter’s abduction is another cruel blow to journalism in the Sahel.”
The presence of armed groups in the Sahel is making journalism extremely dangerous there. Two Spanish journalists, reporter David Beriain and cameraman Roberto Fraile, were killed when the anti-poacher patrol they were covering was attacked on the road leading to the Pama national park in eastern Burkina Faso on 26 April.
The north and centre of Mali continue to be extremely dangerous. Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, two French journalists working for Radio France Internationale, were murdered there in 2013. Seven years later, the investigations being conducted jointly in France and Mali have still failed to shed light on all the murkier aspects of this double murder.
Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.