Freelance Togolese journalist attacked in hit-and-run

Lagos, Nigeria, April 4, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on authorities in Togo to investigate an apparently deliberate hit-and-run attack Wednesday on freelance photojournalist and videographer Koffi Djidonou Frédéric Attipou. 

According to news reports and local journalists, Attipou was riding a motorcycle home from a church meeting in Sanguera, northwest of the capital Lomé, when two vehicles with tinted windows converged on him from either side, both hit him, and knocked him to the ground before speeding off. Attipou told CPJ that an unidentified occupant of one of the vehicles wound down a window and threatened him in his local dialect for being “one who sullies the image of the country by sending images abroad.”

Attipou suffered injuries to his face, arms, and legs, and his camera was damaged, according to news reports.  “These people knew I was a journalist and deliberately attacked me,” Attipou told CPJ. One of the vehicles bore a Nigerian license plate and the other a Togolese plate, he said.

“Koffi Djidonou Frédéric Attipou has faced reprisals in the past for his coverage of the violent and excessive actions of police and government forces,” CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita in New York said. “This new attack can only be viewed as part of pattern of retaliation that Togolese authorities have an obligation to end with arrests and prosecutions of the culprits.”

Attipou has filmed numerous violent dispersals of public protests by security forces that have appeared online. He belongs to Observers, a network of contributors to French government-funded international broadcaster France 24, and contributes to the weekly Le Canard Indépendant, the biweekly magazine Sika, and the website Togovision.

In March 2012, police assaulted Attipou for taking photos of officers seizing a motorcycle during a protest. He suffered an eye injury when officers kicked him and struck him with batons. There have been no arrests in that case.