Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the abduction and murder of two French journalists, Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon, today in the northern city of Kidal. They worked for Radio France Internationale.
“The summary execution of these two RFI journalists is vile and unspeakable,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “We feel both outrage and disgust that journalists who had the courage to cover an area such as the Kidal region were shot in cold blood after interviewing someone.
“We grieve for them, their families and their RFI colleagues, we are concerned for the residents of the Ifoghas massif, whose plight deserves to be covered, and we condemn this double murder, which sadly highlights the lawlessness still prevailing in northern Mali. This act was not only criminal but also terrorist in nature, one designed to deter outside media coverage.”
Dupont and Verlon were kidnapped and shot after conducting an interview in Kidal. Their bodies were found about 10 km from the town centre. Their fate recalls that of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, decapitated by his abductors in Pakistan in 2002, and Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, kidnapped and executed in Iraq in 2004.
Today’s double murder is another unfortunate example of the growing violence to which journalists are exposed. No fewer than 88 were killed in the course of their work in 2012. This was the worst toll since Reporters Without Borders began keep an annual tally in 1995.
A total of 45 journalists have been killed worldwide since the start of 2013. Four French journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011.
Mali was ranked 99th in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, a fall of 74 places from its position in 2012.