PRESS RELEASE ON THE SITUATION IN THE CÔTE D’IVOIRE
Banjul, 6 June 2007. The Special Rapporteur of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) on Human Rights Defenders in Africa, Me Reine Alapini-Gansou expresses her profound concern following information she has received regarding acts of violence against human rights defenders in the Côte d’Ivoire.
The Special Rapporteur expresses particular concern following reports of an alleged attack against the ‘Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l’Homme (LIDHO) and l’Action pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme (APDH) on 21 May 2007 by members of the Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI).
The Special Rapporteur is also extremely concerned about reports stating that the offices of the ‘Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l’homme (LIDHO) and l’Action pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme (APDH) were turned upside down by about 300 hostile individuals from the FESCI. It is alleged that the latter took away computers, equipments and desk furnitures, and all personal belongings of the employees and interns present in the office ( money, mobile phones, bags etc). The building was damaged; movable property and documentations were destroyed.
The Special Rapporteur received information that the objective of these acts may have been to protest against the usage of the offices of both NGOs by the Coordination Nationale des Enseignants et Chercheurs (CNEC) in order to hold consultation meetings regarding the strike in which teachers of higher education have been observing since 13 April 2007.
The Special Rapporteur has also been informed that the Police did nothing to stop the attacks the offices nor to arrest those responsible for the attacks.
The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities of the Côte d’Ivoire to take all necessary measures to guarantee the freedom of human rights defenders in Côte d’Ivoire to carry out their work as human rights defenders and to ensure the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders, in particular members of the Ligue Ivoirienne des Droits de l’homme and l’’Action pour la Protection des Droits de l’Homme.
The Special Rapporteur also reminds the government of its responsibility under African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The government of the Côte d’Ivoire is also respectfully reminded of its obligations under the Grand Bay and Kigali Declarations and other international human rights instruments ratified by the Côte d’Ivoire .