Radio France Internationale journalists murdered after kidnapping takes place in remote northern town; French authorities accuse terrorist groups of targeting veteran correspondents.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which together represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, express their outrage at the kidnapping and brutal murder of Radio France Internationale journalists Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, and call for the killers to be brought to justice.
The horrific incident took place on Saturday, 2 November in the remote northern Malian town of Kidal. The veteran journalists were on special assignment two weeks ahead of legislative elections in the country, when armed men abducted the pair as they left the house of Ambeiry Ag Rhissa, a local official of the MNLA ethnic Tuareg separatist group.
Sources said four men forced the journalists into a truck that was then driven off into the surrounding desert. Their bodies were discovered only a few hours later, abandoned at the side of a road and showing evidence of multiple gunshot wounds.
WAN-IFRA calls on the Malian authorities to ensure prompt and thorough investigations into the killings and to guarantee the safety of all citizens, including journalists, particularly ahead of local elections. WAN-IFRA is encouraged by reports that an operation has already been launched to identify and locate the perpetrators and urges maximum cooperation between Malian and French authorities to ensure terrorism does not silence journalism.
Ghislaine Dupont, 51, had covered African news for RFI for more than 25 years, reporting from across the continent. She spent ten years reporting from the Democratic Republic of Congo before being deported ahead of presidential elections in 2006. Her continued reporting on the DRC led to RFI being banned from the airwaves in the country for over a year.
Claude Verlon, 58, was a gifted sound engineer and seasoned reporter who had worked with distinction across a number of dangerous beats including Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq.
WAN-IFRA extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased and to their colleagues at RFI.
Journalists and media employees working in dangerous parts of the world have been increasingly targeted in recent years. Syria, Egypt, Somalia, Pakistan and Mexico have become some of the deadliest beats for journalists, with armed conflict and organised crime severely restricting news reporting. WAN-IFRA has recorded the deaths of 42 media employees so far in 2013