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Sierra Leone: Fear of torture and ill-treatment / prisoner of conscience: Michael Lawson

, رقم الوثيقة: AFR 51/004/1998

AI is seriously concerned about the safety of the above-named individual who was arrested on 30 January 1998. He is apparently accused of passing information to a radio broadcasting in support of the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, ousted in a military coup in May 1997.He is believed to be held at the police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headquarters where torture and ill-treatment are routine.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AFR 51/04/98
UA 35/98 Fear of torture and ill-treatment/
Prisoner of conscience 5 February 1998
SIERRA LEONEMichael Lawson, student
Amnesty International is seriously concerned about the safety of Michael Lawson,
who was arrested on 30 January 1998, and is calling for his immediate and
unconditional release as a prisoner of conscience.
Michael Lawson, a university student at Fourah Bay College, in the capital
Freetown, is apparently accused of passing information to a radio station
broadcasting in support of the government of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah,
ousted in a military coup in May 1997. President Ahmad Tejan kabbah had come
to power in March 1996 following elections. The radio station, 98.1 FM, has
been broadcasting clandestinely since July 1997. Many people suspected of
providing information to the radio station, or knowing from where broadcasts
are transmitted, have been arrested and ill-treated.
Michael Lawson is believed to be held at the police Criminal Investigation
Department (CID) headquarters in the centre of Freetown. Torture and
ill-treatment of those perceived to oppose the Armed Forces Revolutionary
Council (AFRC), which came to power following the coup, are routine.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Since the military coup on 25 May 1997, soldiers, together with members of
the armed opposition Revolutionary United Front (RUF) who have joined forces
with them, have committed serious human rights violations. Hundreds of people
have been arbitrarily arrested and detained; many have been tortured and
ill-treated. Some of those suspected of opposing the AFRC have been
extrajudicially executed. Victims of human rights violations have included
people associated with the ousted government, journalists, students and human
rights activists.
In October 1997 the AFRC agreed to return power to President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah
by 22 April 1998. However, there have been serious set-backs to the
implementation of this agreement. Fighting has intensified throughout the
country between soldiers and RUF forces on the one side and local hunters,
known as kamajors, who support President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, on the other.
The serious human rights abuses, including torture, ill-treatment and
deliberate and arbitrary killings of unarmed civilians by both sides, which
characterized the internal armed conflict between government forces and the
RUF from 1991 to 1996, are once again occurring.
In October 1997 Amnesty International published a report - Sierra Leone: A
disastrous set-back for human rights - which documented the serious human rights
violations that have occurred since the coup and made specific recommendations
to the AFRC for ending these abuses. It also called on the international
community, which has condemned the coup and sought to resolve the political
crisis in Sierra Leone, to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights
in any decisions and actions it takes.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Due to disruptions in communications with Sierra Leone,
since May 1997, Urgent Action coordinators are asked to organize a limited
number of appeals only: up to FIVE per section. A restricted international
2
postal service is operating through neighbouring Guinea but delays are
inevitable. Fax machines operate but on an intermittent basis.
Please send faxes/express/airmail letters in English or your own language:
- calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Michael Lawson, a
student at Fourah Bay College, arrested on 30 January 1998 and considered to
be a prisoner of conscience;
- urging immediate measures to ensure that he is protected from torture and
ill-treatment and is humanely treated;
- urging that he be allowed immediate access to a doctor, a lawyer and members
of his family.
APPEALS TO:
Lieutenant Colonel Johnny Paul Koroma
Chairman, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
State House
Independence Avenue
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Faxes: + 232 22 24 21 26 / 232 22 22 78 78
Salutation: Dear Lieutenant Colonel Koroma
Colonel Abdul K. Sesay
Secretary General, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
State House
Independence Avenue
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Faxes: + 232 22 22 94 73
Salutation: Dear Colonel Sesay
Mr Allieu Kamara
Spokesman, Armed Forces Revolutionary Council
State House
Independence Avenue
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Faxes: + 232 22 22 88 99
Salutation: Dear Mr Kamara
Mr Alimamy Paolo Bangura
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
Department of Foreign Affairs
14 Gloucester Street
Freetown, Sierra Leone
Faxes: + 232 22 22 56 15
Salutation: Dear Mr Bangura
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 March 1998.

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