Update: Victory! After over 1,000 signatures, the Ivorian government has released the journalists. You can still take action against continued abuses in the cocoa industry by signing this petition to big chocolate CEOs.
This past week, three journalists in the West African nation of Cote d'Ivoire were arrested and accused of stealing confidential documents after their newspaper, Le Nouveau Courrier, published the findings of a report into graft allegations against former officials from the Coffee and Cocoa Bourse (BCC).
Managing Editor Stéphane Guédé, News Editor Théophile Kouamouo, and Editor-in-Chief Saint-Claver Oula remain in jail as of this posting.
Cote d'Ivoire is the largest producer and exporter of cocoa in the world. Dedicated journalists have worked tirelessly to expose corruption, child trafficking, labor abuses, price fixing and allegations of criminal behavior by multinational corporations for many years. Journalists play a critical role in promoting transparency and accountability in the cocoa industry and when freedom of the press is violated, it sends a chilling message to those who speak out about abuses in the cocoa sector.
Take a minute to stand up for freedom of the press in Cote d'Ivoire!
I call on the Ivorian authorities to respect the law that bans pretrial detentions of journalists. Arresting journalists for refusing to name their confidential sources only undermines a vital public service: investigative journalism. Reporters play a critical role in ensuring transparency and accountability in society and repression of their rights should not be tolerated.
I call on State Prosecutor Raymond Tchimou to release Managing Editor Stéphane Guédé, News Editor Théophile Kouamouo, and Editor-in-Chief Saint-Claver Oula immediately and to ensure that freedom of the press is protected in Cote d'Ivoire.