Ivory Coast journalist Noël Konan jailed overnight, fined over a tweet

A police officer stands guard outside a court in Bouna, Ivory Coast in June 2021. On July 18, 2022, a court in Abidjan convicted investigative reporter Noël Konan of defamation and fined him three million CFA francs (US$4,600) over a June 29 tweet. (Reuters/Ange Aboa)

On July 18, 2022, a court in Abidjan, the capital of Ivory Coast, convicted investigative reporter Noël Kouadio Konan of defamation under Article 89 of the country’s press law and fined him three million CFA francs (US$4,600) over a June 29 tweet, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Konan’s lawyer, Serge Yao Kouadio, told CPJ by phone that he filed an appeal of the court’s decision on July 20. If Konan fails to pay the fine, which was suspended by the appeal, the prosecutor could order his arrest, Kouadio said.

Under Article 89 of the press law, those convicted of defamation are not subject to detention or imprisonment for “offenses committed through the press or any other means of publication, subject to any other applicable legal provision.” The press law provides for a fine of between one and three million CFA francs (US$1,550-4,600).

Konan is a freelance journalist who covers corruption and governance issues, has contributed to the privately owned newspaper L’Elephant déchaîné, and publishes reporting on his Twitter account, where he has around 4,800 followers. In 2021, he participated in the “Pandora Papers,” an international investigation, with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

A manager at the local Nouvelle Société Interafricaine d’Assurance (NSIA) Bank in Daoukro filed the defamation complaint on behalf of the bank on July 12, according to Konan. The June 29 tweet alleged that a group of thieves stole money from former Ivorian President Henri Konan Bédié, that an NSIA Bank branch in the central town of Daoukro was involved, and the director of that branch had been fired.

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