“Olivier is fighting to inform us, let’s not forget him.” says the banner, which will remain there throughout the summer. The ceremony was attended by all members of the committee coordinating support for Dubois, a freelancer who reports mainly for Libération, Le Point and Jeune Afrique.
Dubois was kidnapped on 8 April in the northeastern city of Gao when he went to interview a senior member of the Support Group for Islam and Muslims (JNIM), a coalition of armed Islamist groups. A short video released on social media a month later, on the night of 4 May, showed Dubois confirming that JNIM was holding him hostage. No other video has been released since then. He is the only French citizen currently known to be held hostage anywhere in the world.
“To campaign for Olivier’s release is to fight for the right to news and information,” RSF president Pierre Haski said. “It also spreads the message that, without courageous journalists like Olivier, we would not know what is happening in the Sahel region, where it is becoming increasingly difficult to work. RSF will continue to campaign alongside this journalist’s family and colleagues to ensure that everything is done to obtain his release.”
Arnaud Ngatcha, the Paris deputy mayor in charge of international relations, said: “This banner will help to keep Olivier Dubois’ fate in the spotlight in the heart of the capital. It is important to make people aware that he has been a hostage for too long.”
RSF previously organised a show of support for Dubois in Place de la République in Paris on 8 June, the day he completed his second month in captivity. Those attending included six journalists who have been held hostage in the past – Philippe Rochot (in Lebanon in 1986), Jean-Jacques Le Garrec (Philippines in 2000), Georges Malbrunot (Iraq in 2004), Florence Aubenas (Iraq in 2005), Roméo Langlois (Colombia in 2012) and Edouard Elias (Syria in 2013 and 2014).
Mali is ranked 99th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.