15 December 2010

Alert

Call to combat impunity on 12th anniversary of journalist's murder


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(RSF/IFEX) - 13 December 2010 - On the 12th anniversary of newspaper editor Norbert Zongo's murder, Reporters Without Borders urges Burkina Faso's authorities to stop stalling and relaunch the investigation into his death. African countries must actively combat impunity in cases of violence against journalists, taking their lead from Mozambique's response to journalist Carlos Cardoso's murder in November 2000.

"How is it possible that the investigation into Zongo's death is still paralyzed," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard asked. "The years are passing but the wound left by this murder is still open and there has been no let-up in the public's demands for the case to be solved. The newly-reelected President Blaise Compaoré owes his people the truth."

Julliard added: "Mozambique's handling of the Cardoso murder should be taken as a model by the authorities in Burkina Faso, Gambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and other African countries. Thanks to an effective investigation, the perpetrators and instigators of Cardoso's murder were identified and punished. Impunity is not inevitable in Africa. Combating it is just a question of political will."

A stone commemorating Cardoso, an investigative reporter and editor of the business daily Metical, was unveiled on 22 November on Mártires de Machava Avenue in the centre of Maputo at the very spot where two gunmen blocked his car and fatally shot him in the head exactly 10 years before.

Prior to his death, he had been probing the country's biggest financial scandal since independence - the embezzlement of 14 million euros from the privatisation of Mozambique's Banco Commercial. He had named three very influential businessmen in his reports: the Satar brothers and Vicente Ramaya.

In contrast to Cardoso's death, the murders of many other African journalists remain unpunished. No one has ever been convicted for the murder of Gambian newspaper editor Deyda Hydara, who was shot dead in Banjul on 16 December 2004. Impunity reigns in Somalia, Africa's deadliest country for the media, where murders of journalists are never investigated properly.

Impunity also reigns in Democratic Republic of Congo, where the murders of Franck Ngyke and Bapuwa Mwamba in Kinshasa in 2005 and 2006 and the murder of Patrick Kikuku in Goma, in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu, in 2007 have never been solved.

Zongo's murder

Zongo was an investigative journalist and editor of the weekly L'Indépendant. His charred body was found in a car along with the charred bodies of three companions in the southern town of Sapouy on 13 December 1998. At the time of his death he had been looking into how David Ouédraogo, the chauffeur of President Blaise Compaoré's brother François, died at the hands of presidential guard members after being arrested on suspicion of stealing from his employer.

Following street protests, President Compaoré created an Independent Commission of Enquiry (CEI) to look into the multiple murder of Zongo and his companions. A few months later, the commission named "six leading suspects."

Three presidential guard members were convicted in August 2000 of kidnapping Ouédraogo and torturing him to death. In February 2001, the public prosecutor went on to charge one of them, Sgt. Marcel Kafando, with murder and arson in connection with Zongo's death. But despite the gravity of the charges, Kafando was allowed to continue living at his home in Ouagadougou.

An investigating judge, Wenceslas Ilboudo, finally ruled on 19 July 2006 that the investigation against "Marcel Kafando and any other unidentified person" for the murder of Zongo should be abandoned on the grounds that a prosecution witness had withdrawn a statement he had made eight years before. The ruling was confirmed on appeal.

At that stage, the investigation could only be reopened if "new evidence" was produced. This is what Reporters Without Borders did on 20 October 2006, when it gave the Burkina Faso state prosecutor a copy of the original draft of the CEI's report, before it was toned down on the insistence of two of the commission's members, who represented the government.

Passages about the contradictions in François Compaoré's statement and attempts by businessman Oumarou Kanazoé to silence Zongo prior to his murder were completely eliminated from the final version of the report. The conclusions of the original report were also much more positive and detailed, and much more specific when identifying the "six leading suspects," all members of the presidential guard.

Despite the new evidence, none of the suspects was arrested and Kafando died in December 2009.


Source:

More on this case

Police summon heads of Collective against Impunity two days after march on 10th anniversary of journalist's murder 16 December 2008 Protesters rename Ouagadougou avenue after slain journalist on 10th anniversary of murder 16 December 2008 Killers of journalist Norbert Zongo still not brought to justice nine years after his death 7 December 2007 President's brother launches libel lawsuit against bi-monthly after being implicated in Zongo murder 8 January 2007 Prosecutor refuses to reopen Zongo murder investigation 25 October 2006 RSF presents new evidence in Zongo murder case 20 October 2006 Appeal court upholds judge's decision to drop all charges in Zongo case 18 August 2006 Outrageous denial of justice in the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo 21 July 2006 Six years after journalist Norbert Zongo's murder, investigation remains stalled and impunity prevails 13 December 2004 Devastating new testimony against Presidential Guard in Norbert Zongo murder case 15 December 2003 Four years of impunity for the killers of journalist Norbert Zongo 13 December 2002 Three years of impunity for journalist Norbert Zongo's killers; RSF holds the authorities responsible for the fate of Marcel Kafando, the only person jailed in connection with the case 12 December 2001 President Blaise Compaoré's visit to France: RSF activists beaten up in front of Socialist Party headquarters; fourteen members of the organisation arrested 16 October 2001 French courts refuse to hear complaint against Burkina Faso president 12 October 2001 RSF files complaint against Blaise Compaoré with French authorities 11 October 2001 IFJ protests journalists' imprisonment 1 May 2001 Special briefing on Zongo affair on CPJ website 5 April 2001 CPJ demands full investigation into editor's murder 30 March 2001 Thirty-five African newspapers affiliated with the "Press and Democracy" network appeal for an end to impunity in Burkina Faso 9 March 2001 Police occupy and close Norbert Zongo National Press Centre 19 December 2000 Demonstration in memory of journalist Norbert Zongo banned 18 December 2000 Two years after the murder of Norbert Zongo, those responsible are still free and RSF is barred from Burkina Faso 7 December 2000 RSF condemns total immunity enjoyed by head of state and his brother 22 August 2000 Campaigners against impunity face jail sentences 17 December 1999 Norbert Zongo case: continuation of the inquiry 7 December 1999 International Human Rights Day 1999: challenging impunity 1 December 1999 RSF representatives turned back 22 September 1999 Government official rejects RSF mission on journalist's death 9 July 1999 Report on death of journalist Norbert Zongo submitted by Independent Commission of Inquiry 7 May 1999 Violence escalates in the wake of journalist Zongo's death 18 January 1999 WAN calls for investigation into journalist's death 22 December 1998 WAJA suspects foul play in death of journalist Zongo, calls for enquiry 16 December 1998 IFJ protests killing of journalist Zongo 16 December 1998 Journalist found dead 15 December 1998

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At this point, would publish cover: "Home page"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "President's brother launches libel lawsuit against bi-monthly after being implicated in Zongo murder"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Three years of impunity for journalist Norbert Zongo's killers; RSF holds the authorities responsible for the fate of Marcel Kafando, the only person jailed in connection with the case"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "President Blaise Compaoré's visit to France: RSF activists beaten up in front of Socialist Party headquarters; fourteen members of the organisation arrested"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "French courts refuse to hear complaint against Burkina Faso president"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "RSF files complaint against Blaise Compaoré with French authorities"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "IFJ protests journalists' imprisonment"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Special briefing on Zongo affair on CPJ website"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "CPJ demands full investigation into editor's murder"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Thirty-five African newspapers affiliated with the "Press and Democracy" network appeal for an end to impunity in Burkina Faso"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Police occupy and close Norbert Zongo National Press Centre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Demonstration in memory of journalist Norbert Zongo banned"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Two years after the murder of Norbert Zongo, those responsible are still free and RSF is barred from Burkina Faso"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "RSF condemns total immunity enjoyed by head of state and his brother"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Campaigners against impunity face jail sentences"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "RSF representatives turned back"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Norbert Zongo case: continuation of the inquiry"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "International Human Rights Day 1999: challenging impunity"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Government official rejects RSF mission on journalist's death"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Report on death of journalist Norbert Zongo submitted by Independent Commission of Inquiry"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Violence escalates in the wake of journalist Zongo's death"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "WAN calls for investigation into journalist's death"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "WAJA suspects foul play in death of journalist Zongo, calls for enquiry"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "IFJ protests killing of journalist Zongo"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Four years of impunity for the killers of journalist Norbert Zongo"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Devastating new testimony against Presidential Guard in Norbert Zongo murder case"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Six years after journalist Norbert Zongo's murder, investigation remains stalled and impunity prevails"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Outrageous denial of justice in the 1998 murder of journalist Norbert Zongo"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Appeal court upholds judge's decision to drop all charges in Zongo case"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "RSF presents new evidence in Zongo murder case"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Prosecutor refuses to reopen Zongo murder investigation"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Killers of journalist Norbert Zongo still not brought to justice nine years after his death"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Protesters rename Ouagadougou avenue after slain journalist on 10th anniversary of murder"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Police summon heads of Collective against Impunity two days after march on 10th anniversary of journalist's murder"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Journalist found dead"
 
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