Reporters Without Borders has learned with deep sadness of the death in Bangui yesterday of the Radio Be Oko journalist Elisabeth Blanche from injuries she suffered in an attack by the Séléka rebel coalition in the central town of Bambari in January last year.
She was brutally attacked by armed rebel who accused her of having “a sharp tongue”. She was first treated locally then was transferred to hospital in the Central African capital, Bangui the following month where she received more advanced care. She continued to suffer serious physical and mental after-effects from the attack. “The death of this journalist, which witnesses agree was the direct result of the violent assault on her by armed men, highlights the serious dangers faced by those in the media in the Central African Republic over the past two years,” said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. “It is vital that the transitional government gives a strong commitment to guaranteeing journalists’ safety and ends the impunity that surround such assaults.” The safety of those who work in the media continues to deteriorate in the Central African Republic. On 18 June, Reporters Without Borders was among the signatories of an open letter appealing to the transitional government and the international community to do all they can to comply with and enforce the right to information, and to protect journalists in the course of their work. The CAR had the biggest fall of any country in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index, dropping 43 places to 109th of 180 countries, compared with 2013.