26 February 2002


Editor-in-chief of radio station assaulted

Incident details

Lucienne Moréo-See


(PINA/IFEX) - On 20 February 2002, New Caledonian radio station Radio Djiido reported that its editor-in-chief, Lucienne Moréo-See, was assaulted at her home near Nouméa, capital of the French Pacific territory. The radio station said Moréo-See was attacked by two men in the morning hours several days earlier. They assaulted the journalist and then left.

"The physical and psychological results were such that Lucienne was severely shocked and remained locked at home," Radio Djiido said. The station said she finally saw a doctor.

Radio Djiido ceased broadcasting for twenty-four hours in protest against what it called "continuing attacks on press freedom." Radio Djiido has played a prominent role over the years, providing coverage of pro-independence viewpoints and indigenous Kanak issues. The station withstood heavy pressures during earlier conflicts between pro-independence groups (led by indigenous Kanaks) and anti-independence groups (led by pro-French Europeans).

Radio Djiido said the assault on Moréo-See appeared to be related to ethnic tensions on the outskirts of Nouméa. Local indigenous Kanaks and Wallisian settlers have been clashing for nearly three months in a dispute over land. Thousands of Wallisians have come to New Caledonia from another French Pacific territory, Wallis and Futuna, in search of work.

On 12 February, another Radio Djiido journalist, Jean-Louis Koroma, was manhandled and a station vehicle was damaged, Radio Djiido said. It added that other staff members from the station have also been threatened. After the assault on Koroma, Moréo-See had gone on air to criticise the attack.

Background Information

On 13 February, the publisher of the weekly satirical newspaper "Le Chien Bleu", Etienne Dutailly, was beaten up at his Noumea office by two men (see IFEX alert of 15 February 2002). "Le Chien Bleu" features satire about the sometimes turbulent New Caledonian political scene. In July 2001, Dutailly was assaulted with a pipe by a masked man, the daily "Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes" reported.

Local political and community leaders have condemned the assaults on the news media.


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