September 13, 2016

RSF responds to Gabonese government spokesman’s criticism

Credit : Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nzé /
Responding to a Gabonese government charge of bias for not mentioning an attack on a state media outlet, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) emphasizes that it condemns all attacks on media and journalists without exception and reiterates its call to the authorities not to obstruct access to information.

During a news conference in Libreville on 8 September, communication minister and government spokesman Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nzé criticized RSF for not reacting to an attack on the pro-government newspaper L’Union, and thereby questioned RSF’s impartiality.

“We defend all media outlets and journalists whenever they are the victims of violence and abuses, regardless of their political affiliation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.

“We deplore the attack on L’Union as we do the attacks on opposition newspapers. No obstruction of the work of journalists should be permitted. This includes Le Monde Diplomatique reporter Olivier Piot, who was denied entry to Gabon on 10 September, in yet another example of the clampdown on media coverage being orchestrated by the authorities. Under what criteria are some journalists allowed into Gabon and other are banned?”

After the unrest and violence in Libreville on the night of 31 August, RSF issued a press release condemning the attacks on several media outlets and has continued to closely monitor events in Gabon ever since.

In that press release, RSF also urged the authorities to protect the media and to guarantee unrestricted access to information.

The National Council for Communication voiced concern on 7 September but RSF is amazed that, given the gravity of the situation, there has been no official condemnation of the violence against the media and journalists except the attack on Gabon TV journalist Jean-Raoul Mbadinga at opposition candidate Jean Ping’s campaign headquarters on 9 September.

RSF also questions the effectiveness of the measures taken by the government to end the acts of violence that keep on targeting and media and journalists and its measures to restore communications networks, which continue to be partially blocked or slowed down.